Sunday, June 30, 2013

Will the MyCAA military spouse tuition scholarship program be cut by the big sequester cuts?

It looks like the answer is “no.” At least for the time being.

The college staff attended a webinar with MyCAA operational staff and due to the nature of the funding, there are no projections of MyCAA cuts or program suspensions.

That’s the good news for military spouses. Don’t forget though, the program did shut down a couple of years ago (2010) without much advance notice to either students or schools and so it is possible it could happen again without warning.

Other programs are not so lucky, again due to the nature of the funding and the sequester law.

For example, one of the Air Force scholarship tuition programs ran smack into the sequester chopping block.

Without much warning, participating schools were told at the time, that Acquisition Civilian Tuition Assistance was not suspended, but “on hold. “ Participating schools were told they should continue to process all approved Authority for Tuition Assistance - Education Services Program - Civilian ACQ, AF 1227 forms.

In fact, James A. Cody, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force wrote this letter, announcing the sequester cuts:

Fellow Airmen,

 As you know, our Nation and our Air Force are working through some significant fiscal challenges. The combined effects of continuing resolution and sequestration are forcing some very tough decisions. Unfortunately we'll likely be forced to furlough nearly 180,000 civilian Airmen for 16 hours per pay period for the remainder of the fiscal year starting in April. This is one of many impacts on your units and our Airmen and Families. Given this environment we've had to make the decision to suspend military Tuition Assistance (TA) for the remainder of this fiscal year.

Effective 1700 EST, 11 March, Active Duty Airmen will no longer be able to submit requests for Tuition Assistance.

Believe me, this was a tough decision because our Air Force truly values education. This is evidenced by our requirement for a Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) degree for senior rater endorsement (SRE) eligibility.

SRE means a great deal in the promotion of Master Sergeant to Senior Master Sergeant, and this will not change. We understand suspension of TA benefits makes things tougher, but there are other ways for Airmen to complete CCAF degrees. CLEP exams, the G.I. Bill, scholarships, and federal grants are some options.

We remain as committed as ever to ensuring Airmen have the opportunity and means to pursue educational goals. We're still looking at the impacts for FY14 and will do our best to have TA reinstated, although we'll likely need to review the eligibility requirements to ensure sustainability. We owe you more information on this and will provide details as soon as we can.

Thank you for your service to our Nation.

The program was reinstated a few weeks later.

What does this mean for MyCAA? It means that, although there are no current plans being announced for any cuts or holds, it doesn’t mean that still can’t happen at any time. Interruptions can be very chaotic to students. Community Business College always tries to accommodate these unforeseen circumstances. It’s one of the reasons Community Business College has been named a “Military Friendly School” over 4 years in a row.

The best answer? Tell all the military spouses who are eligible to sign up for an account as soon as possible. They don’t have to enroll in any classes immediately but they will at least get their feet in the door. Last time the MyCAA operators suspended operations, they allowed all students who were in the system to complete their application processes and finish out their coursework (just like you can see in the Air Force letter above). Enrolling in the program and getting the preliminary paperwork out of the way is a good placeholder in case somethign happens. Then, when a military spouses is ready to start, everything is all taken care of.

For more information about military spouse eligibility or the vocational training programs available to military spouses, visit the Community Business College website at

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Happy Pi Day 2013

Today is Pi Day.

Just what is Pi Day? Well since the value of Pi is considered to be 3.14 then today date of 3-14-13 is this year’s Pi Day.

The number Pi (or π, if you’re using the Greek letter) is a mathematical constant. It’s technically the ratio of any circle's circumference to its own diameter. For general use, Pi is the number you get when dividing 22 by 7. It’s approximately equal to 3.14159.
What’s special about Pi? Well here are a few interesting things:
  •  Pi is an irrational number. In irrational number is one that can’t be written exactly as a ratio of two integers. That means when people say Pi is just 22/7, they’re technically not correct. 

  •  Pi is a transcendental number, which means that despite thousands of years of people trying to do it, it is impossible to solve the ancient challenge of “squaring the circle.” It means using the tools of a compass and straight-edge to construct a square with the exact same area as a circle.

  •  Pi has a decimal pattern never repeats. So far, nobody has been able to distinguish a pattern of repeating numbers in the digits that flow to the right of the decimal point, despite having been calculated out to more than a million decimal places.
                Here’s an example: 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716.

As a vocational college, we find that most of our students are adults who use everyday math just fine but have forgotten some of the things they learned in secondary school. Geometry and the concept of Pi are concepts not only used in specialized fields but also around us all the time if you just look for them.

Events like today’s Pi Day are good reminders of how fun math can be and how to keep on learning.

And, since any celebration includes some type of dessert, here is an easy recipe for making your own Pi pie on Pi Day. Its measurements use the value of Pi and it includes Greek yogurt for the Greek letter. Ok, that might be stretching it some but we’ve got to get in the spirit of these things and it sure does make a good no-bake cheesecake pie.

EASY As PI - PI-Day Cheesecake Pie


3.14 ounces of plain Greek yogurt (can be rounded to 3 ounces)

3.14 ounces of sugar

6.28 ounces cream cheese, softened (can be rounded to 6 ounces)

6.28 ounces of thawed whipped topping (can be rounded to 6 ounces)

3.14 ounces of sugar (can be rounded to 3 ounces)

Splash of vanilla


Mix cream cheese, yogurt, and sugar together until smooth. Add vanilla. Gently fold in whipped topping until well combined. Do not over-mix or the air will come out of the whipped topping and the pie will be too dense. Pour into pie crust shape (see below for recipe). Chill for 1 hour in refrigerator and serve. Top with remaining whipped topping if desired.

Make Your Own Graham Cracker Pie Crust


2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Using heavy duty aluminum foil, pinch out the PI Greek letter π to form at least 1 inch wide “legs” and 1 inch wide top bar. The lengths should be approximately four inches each. Spray well with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine all ingredients.

Press over bottom and up sides of foil form. Chill for half an hour, using crumpled aluminum foil around the form to support the shape until it sets. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes.

More Rational Pie

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hostess Workers Get Retraining

According to a US Department of Labor news release, 18,000 former Hostess workers (the makers of Twinkies and Ding Dongs) are now eligible to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) training funding.

The federal TAA program, created in 1974, provides support to those workers who lost their jobs due to foreign trade.  To allow Hostess workers to receive this benefit, the Department of Labor had to determine whether the big layoff event that occurred in January (and caused a run in grocery stores for the snack foods) met the eligibility criteria spelled out in the Trade Act of 1974. The department’s investigation found that increased imports of baked products from other countries contributed to the company's sales declines and workers losing their jobs.  As a result, the TAA eligibility was granted to Hostess workers in 48 states, including the Hostess bakery stores in Modesto and Turlock.

The TAA eligible workers were engaged in activities related to the production, distribution and sale of baked goods such as bread, buns, rolls, snack cakes, doughnuts, sweet rolls and similar products.

 As part of the rules, the TAA program can be implemented if the federal Department of Labor finds that a significant number of workers at the company age 50 or over possess skills that are not easily transferable and that competitive conditions within the industry are adverse.

What do they get?

Those who qualify may receive case management and re-employment services, training in new occupational skills and/or trade readjustment allowances that provide income support for workers enrolled in training. Workers may also receive job search and relocation allowances, and the Health Coverage Tax Credit.

There are three different tracks an unemployed person under the TAA may follow:

1) Occupational Skills or Vocational Training

•Often offered through a  technical college: this includes college-level degrees or certificate programs along with necessary prerequisite courses through a TAA eligible training provider.

•Apprenticeship programs and skill focus training.

2) Remedial Education

•Remedial Education includes Adult Basic Education often in areas of math, English or reading skills, obtaining a High School equivalency credential (GED or HSED), or pursing a program titled English as a Second Language (or ESL) classes

3) Employer Based Training or On-The-Job (OJT) Training

•Contracts can be established between an employer and the participant of the TAA program to provide for training to take place at the employer site, for a set period of time. Payment is made to the employer to reimburse them for the cost they incur to provide training for their job openings.

While TAA is open to eligible workers of all ages, workers 50 years of age and older may elect to receive Re-employment Trade Adjustment Assistance instead. If a worker obtains new employment at wages less than $50,000 and less than those earned in the trade-impacted employment, the RTAA program will pay 50 percent of the difference between the old wage and the new wage, up to $10,000 over a two-year period. RTAA participants may also be eligible for retraining and the HCTC.

TAA can provide fully funded training, a health coverage subsidy, extended income support, and other benefits to dislocated workers whose companies move production or outsource to another country, or are forced to lay off workers or close plants due to increased imports and foreign competition.

Community Business College has trained students eligible for TAA assistance but usually as a result of manufacturers who moved their plants to other countries.

By the way, the snacks for which they were famous might be making a comeback as the remnants of the Hostess company announced in February that they are close to selling their Wonder Bread brand to Flowers Foods. Can the resurrection of Twinkies be far behind?

For more information on TAA and the range of the Department of Labor's employment and training services, visit the Community Business College educational site at .

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Why Does My Computer Hum?

A while ago, one of our Community Business CollegeQuickBooks students asked this question?

“Why is my computer humming?”

The answer?

The ACTUAL reason?

In this case, the real reason the humming sound was coming from the computer was some a bundle of cables inside the main computer’s tower case had shifted and the internal cooling fan was brushing against it.

Laptops don’t have to worry about this kind of thing since they don’t have the cables that the desktop tower computer has.

Want to learn more? You can take one of the CommunityBusiness College online classes on Basic Computer hardware (This is also the Comp TIA A+ Certification prep course that is a good start if you want to take your computer hardware knowledge further).

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Best Memory Tool - A Final Thought

This was our final thought for the end of this week. It was presented at our student meeting.

This was our final thought for the end of this week. It was presented at our student meeting.

The importance of taking notes is often overlooked. It’s as if it were an archaic remnant of days gone by, replaced by tablets and cell phones with audio recorders that can record sessions for unlimited playbacks.

As wonderful as those tools are, nothing can replace the taking of good notes. Why? For one thing, after you capture the information you need, retrieving a specific detail later on can be a hassle if you have to fast forward through 37 minutes of lecture to find the point you’ve forgotten. Even transcribing software gives too much information. Important points are captured but they’re buried under a lot of detail that’s not always needed.

 The best notes are those that capture just the important points, briefly and concisely.

As an added benefit, the act of hearing something and writing it down is a memory booster that helps train the brain. To take a note, someone must hear it, have an understanding of how it translates to paper and then command the correct body part to make the notation.

Student Note Taking

Of course students especially need to be good note takers. We find at Community Business College that the best student performers tend to be the ones who take the best notes. Instructors share their wisdom and context of the information they are sharing.

Good note taking means students send messages to their future selves of what is important to remember.

Takes Notes When Starting A Job

Some new newly hired candidates will go through the first day of orientation and listen attentively to how their jobs are supposed to be done without taking notes. Why? Some believe that if they’re taking notes, it looks like a weakness. Or that it might be rude.
Here’s some advice, if you think it might be rude, ask permission first. That not only reinforces with the new boss that you’re about take the information you are about to receive seriously, but it also shows courtesy, a practice that has fallen too much out of favor these days.
As to being a weakness, it generally has the opposite effect. It lets an employer know that the new employee is taking the instruction seriously. Watch the boss’ eyes. After seeing something written down, the boss will probably follow up with some more supporting details. Most new employees who have taken notes make stronger first impressions.
Otherwise, the boss might believe that nothing shared is about to be remembered.
So, take note – note taking is an excellent way of preserving what you need to know for the future. A better future, after all, is what self-improvement is all about.

The animation of this final thought is available on YouTube here -

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rain with a 50% Chance of Narcissus

It rained today but the narcissus plants are showing their colors.

The flowers are blooming and making the outside of the medical office classroom smell wonderful. Their blossoms are oasis of white and yellow in a waving sea of green leaves

The flowers were a gift from 5 years ago. We planted them in the Community Business College campus landscaping and they have taken root and multiplied.

They have survived people kicking ties way through the planter, frosts, and heat waves.

These flowers are also know as “paperwhites” and they sure seem to like Modesto soil and weather.

Once they finish blooming, they will give birth to new bulbs. If anyone is interested in getting a couple of them, contact the school’s main office.

The thought that Community Business College is spreading beauty through flowers out in the world the way we spread knowledge is a neat idea. :-)

Happy Valentine's Day 2019

Our students are the best! Thanks for the chocolates and thanks for sharing with the class! We really do have the Best Teachers Ever! ...