Monthly Archives: May 2006

Pearl River

This article linked here:  http://csmonitor.com/2006/0505/p01s01-woap.html  contains a photograph of the Pearl River taken right where we walk every day.  The bridge in the background is a really pretty bridge, don’t you think?  I have a bit of fun by asking my Chinese friends whether they think the design of the bridge supports is meant to be fish or birds.  Almost everyone (including me) answers that they think it’s birds.  David, on the other hand, thinks it’s fish.
 
Anyway, this article reminded me of a shocking scene I saw a few weeks ago.  I saw some people out swimming in the Pearl River!  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I wondered what kind of idiots they were, or how they could ignore the smell to swim in that water.  Remarkably, there seem to be fish in the water.  I’m not sure how they survive!  But let’s not use too much of a double standard here.  From S’s activities and science projects, I know that all the yard chemicals that you and I put on our lawns, as well as things like the ibuprofen that I take that gets metabolized by my kidneys and then excreted into the public sewer system — all of that makes it into the watershed.  I’m also surprised that fish are able to live in Cary’s Lake, an urban lake near our house in our medium sized US city.  One time I happened to be swimming in that lake when a summer shower began.  There was no lightning so I didn’t get out of the water.  Almost immediately, however, I found myself engulfed in oil and nasty smelling water as rain washed the surface water and pollutants from the land down into the lake itself.  Not a fun experience. 
 
The next year, S’s science project (guided by environmental experts and teacher, not by mom) was to measure levels of specific pollutants before, during, and after a rain storm to see how the pollutants varied with rainfall.  If I had known then what I learned as a result of S’s project, I would have gotten out of the lake immediately when that rain runoff started!  For the following year’s project, S was encouraged to measure toxins in the sediment of the lake bottom, but it was too expensive and too much trouble to apply for a grant.  But the general consenus was that that she would find toxins, just a matter of figuring out exactly which ones and how much. 
 
We all need to do our part to protect the environment.  And that doesn’t just mean recycling.  There are three R’s:  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  They are listed in order of importance.  
 
And if you want to complain about environmental regulations, just come to China to see what happens when there aren’t any.  Whole villages where everyone is dying of cancer.  Think about it, there is always a cost.   
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THE VERDICT

Will spare the details of the PAINFUL decision process . . .  .  The verdict is . . . .  
 
The Honors College at University of South Carolina! 
 
The other school was so totally awesome.  There was nothing about it not to love, except the price tag.  But as one MBA friend put it, "That’s a huge Delta [difference in price]!"  In the end, the scholarship offers, combined with a college that is also superlative (although very different) won the day.  
 
And, although it may be our state school, USC Honors is really nothing to sneeze at: 
 
http://schc.sc.edu/downloads/SCHCProfile.pdf   (especially the last paragraph)

 
 
S will be one of 300 freshmen admitted to the Honors College.  Will have access to small classes taught by senior faculty and designed specifically for the most highly motivated students in the university.   Yet she will also have access to all the resources of a research university.  It’s an education that truly can be whatever one makes of it.  One of the honors programs most highly commended in the book "Public Ivies" because it operates as a separate college rather than merely as a program within the university. 
 
Thanks to many of you for advice and input.  S received very thoughtful letters from several people — friends and family of all ages and persuasions and perspectives.  And some whom we know less well; GWU graduates who went there for u-grad, grad school; one U of SC Honors Alum who went from USC Honors to Peace Corps to Johns Hopkins (#1 program in International Studies) to State Dept and who kindly responded thoughtfully to a letter from a stranger.  This was partly a very practical decision to get a solid undergraduate diploma and save resources for graduate school.  A decision not to go into debt. A practical decision for a family with two more children waiting in the wings for their turn at education.  But it was also a decision based on the strength of the Honors College and the belief it offers a superlative education.  Albeit less focused / one sided in interest than a diploma from the other school.  And recognizing that neither choice was a "bad" choice. 
 
But hmm, we are already seeing an advantage of not having a one-dimensional focus!  Now that we are settled and picking courses, some big decisions regarding course schedule seem to be not just what language for International Business (declared major and #1 ranked program in U.S., albeit a risk since they only admit 50 sophmores per year), but, hmm . . . 
 
"On Tuesdays and Thursdays would I rather take Oceanography or Natural History of South Carolina taught by (THE) Rudy Mancke*?"   
 
(*S was a recipient of the Rudy Mancke Award for Excellence in Natural Science during 9th Grade for her research related to her 9th grade science project, The Measured Effect of Rainfall on Nonpoint Source Pollution Levels in the Gills Creek Watershed.) 
 
Okay, nuff CROWING about our future GAMECOCK in the family, will go back to being a normal person now.  Now my big decision for tomorrow:  Do I wear my Garnet and Black Gamecock T-shirt or  my Carolina Girls T! 
 
Just got back from Hong Kong.  Will post about that trip soon.  And Monday is ANNIVERSARY # 24 for D & Me!!!   Has a lot changed in 24 years, or WHAT  (not just grey hair either).   Twenty four years ago, who even would have imagined these three daughters, two of them almost grown up! 

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