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News@MCC for Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Students Explore Mexican Culture

Nine MCC students journeyed to Oaxaca, Mexico, for an 18-day immersion experience to study Spanish and Oaxacan culture. The students, who departed July 16, will live with host families, study Spanish and participate in cultural workshops such as salsa dancing, Oaxacan cuisine, Mexican cinema and weaving. The group will also experience the Guelaguetza, a festival with representation of ethnic groups from seven regions, and travel to cultural sites such as Mitla, Monte Alban and San Bartolo Coyotepec.

This is the fourth year MCC faculty have led students to study in Oaxaca. Other faculty-led groups this summer have traveled to Rosebud, S.D., China and Ghana.  Culinary Arts students will depart for Thailand on Aug. 4.

For more information about study abroad opportunities at MCC, contact Barbara Velazquez at bvelazquez@mccneb.edu or 457-2253.

New Books & DVDs

View the latest list of new books and DVDs available in the campus libraries.

Program Offers High School Dropouts a Path to Diploma

If you know an individual who has dropped out of high school in Omaha Public Schools, talk to him or her about reengaging in education through Gateway to College. MCC's Gateway to College program gives high school dropouts ages 16-20 the opportunity to earn their diploma while also earning college credits.

Gateway to College is now accepting applications for Fall 2010. Learn more at www.mccneb.edu/gtc/.

Submit, Vote for Top Environment Omaha Ideas

On July 15, Environment Omaha launched www.passthepotatoes.com, a virtual town hall event that invites anyone to submit or vote on ideas to improve Omaha's sustainability. You can help improve Omaha by voting for MCC staff member Greg Stachon's idea - or submit your own.

Ideas are sought in five Environment Omaha content areas, with Natural Environment as the first category. Users can submit ideas on how to preserve and enhance Omaha's natural environment from July 15 to July 29. The voting period for this content area will run from July 30 to Aug. 6.

Greg Stachon, MCC Records Drawing Coordinator, submitted an idea called Protect the Papio. "The idea is to protect the Papillion Creek  from development," Stachon said. "A new 200-feet-wide by 3-mile-long park would be dedicated along an undeveloped section of the creek. The park would reduce flooding potential, protect wildlife and act as an amenity for all."

A panel of local experts convened by Omaha by Design will review the top ideas generated in each content area for potential implementation. Pending available funding, the goal is to implement one citizen-inspired project in Omaha within the next calendar year.

Stay Cool in the Summer - and Still Save Energy

Staying cool this summer does not have to mean cranking up the air conditioning and spending a lot of money. A typical household spends almost 20 percent of its utility bill on cooling. EPA's ENERGY STAR program has some low- to no-cost energy-saving tips to beat the heat and save money, too.


  • Program your thermostat to work around your family's summer schedule-set it a few degrees higher when no one is home so your cooling system is not cooling an empty house. With proper use, programmable thermostats can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.
  • Check your HVAC system's air filter every month. If the filter looks dirty, change it; change the filter at least every three months. A dirty filter will slow air flow and make the system work harder to keep you cool-wasting energy.
  • Run your ceiling fan to create a cool breeze. If you raise your thermostat by only two degrees and use your ceiling fan, you can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent. Remember that ceiling fans cool you, not the room, so when you leave the room make sure to turn off the fan.
  • Close the curtains and shades before you leave your home to keep the sun's rays from overheating the interior of your home. If you can, move container trees and plants in front of sun-exposed windows to act as shade.


  • Remember to have your HVAC system serviced annually to ensure it is running at optimum efficiency for money and energy savings.
  • Swap out incandescent bulbs with more energy-efficient lighting choices-ENERGY STAR qualified lighting not only uses less energy, it also produces about 75 percent less heat than incandescent lighting, so cooling bills will be reduced too.
  • Seal your ducts. As much as 20 percent of the air moving through your home's duct system is lost due to leaks and poor connections. Seal duct work using mastic sealant or metal tape and insulate all the ducts that you can access (such as those in attics, crawlspaces, unfinished basements and garages).
  • Make sure that connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet your floors, walls and ceilings. These are common locations to find leaks and disconnected ductwork.

Medium- to Higher-Cost:

  • When buying a room air conditioning unit, look for one that has earned EPA's ENERGY STAR. If every room air conditioner in the United States were ENERGY STAR qualified, they would prevent 900 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually-equivalent to the emissions from 80,000 cars.
  • Add insulation to your attic to keep cool air in-if every American household did so, we would collectively save more than $1.8 billion in yearly energy costs.
  • Hire a contractor to seal and insulate the interior ductwork in your home (the ducts you cannot reach yourself). For help on choosing the right contractor, visit www.energystar.gov/homeimprovement.
  • If your central air conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, replacing it with a model that has earned EPA's ENERGY STAR could cut your cooling costs by 30 percent.

For more information about keeping cool and comfortable while saving money this season, visit www.energystar.gov/heatcool.

Biking this Summer? Follow These Tips

The National Bike Registry offers some great bike safety tips for recreational and commuting bicyclists. www.nationalbikeregistry.com/proplock.html

Tips to Keep Your Car Running Smoothly

MCC's Auto Technology Program lists its Dos and Don'ts of Car Maintenance, an easy-to-use list of car maintenance tips and tricks.

The Dos and Don'ts of Car Maintenance

1. Don't ignore small noises. 

Pay attention to all of the noises from the moment you start the engine until you shut it off.  Some noises are normal, but some could indicate a serious problem. Drive with the radio turned off once in awhile so you can listen to the engine.

2.  Don't diagnose your own problem.               

Tell your technician what your car is doing - that is, tell him or her the symptoms. Don't say what you want done when dealing with specific problems. Some shops will do what you ask, but it may not repair what's wrong with the car. 

3. Don't be intimidated.

Since you are the paying customer, ask questions until you understand what is being done to your car. If necessary, call upon a friend or family member to make sure you understand what is being done to your car. 

4. Do build a relationship with a quality repair shop.  

Find a repair shop close to home that you trust and then patronize that shop. Repair shops rely on word-of-mouth for their business.  Most repair shops can't afford to advertise, so once you've built a relationship, they will be more willing to work with you when you have a repeat problem.  

5. Do believe your technician.

A reputable shop will not lie to you.  A quality shop may be more expensive, but when you have a problem, the shop will stand behind the work.

6. Do know exactly what your car is doing that you feel needs repaired.

Know exactly what you do to make your car malfunction or act up.  The technician may not be able to duplicate the problem because of how you drive the car.  You may have to take him/her along on a road test to demonstrate the problem.

 7. Do keep your foot off the clutch pedal when sitting at a stop light.

A car with a manual transmission should be in neutral at a stoplight. This is achieved by not stepping on the clutch pedal. In other words, the clutch should not be engaged at this time. Stepping on the clutch pedal engages the clutch which actually puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the thrust bearings that hold the crankshaft in place inside the bottom end of the engine and creates wear to both the crankshaft and the bearings. Thus, in order to reduce the amount of wear on the crankshaft and thrust bearings, put the transmission in neutral and take your foot off of the clutch pedal.

8. Don't trust your car to a friend that isn't a bona fide technician.

Making repairs on today's cars in no easy task.  It requires lots of training, experience and expensive equipment to make an accurate diagnosis.  Without those factors, your friend may be making nothing more than a calculated guess as to what's wrong-at your expense.

Outdoor Concert at Sarpy Center

The La Vista Summer Concert Series returns to the Sarpy Center-La Vista Public Library on Friday, July 23, with Omaha band On the Fritz at 6:30 p.m. Events are free and open to the public.

$1,500 in Prizes Offered at Elder Fair

MCC's first Elder Fair will corral resources for seniors, caregivers and adults ages 50 and up at the South Omaha Campus ITC July 30. Health screenings through the AARP/Walgreens Wellness Bus are available at no cost for individuals of any age.

Workshops, prizes including a digital camera and gift cards, and more than 60 booths are among the fair's offerings. A description of all the free workshops is available at the Service-Learning website.

Green Tip

Farmer's market vs. supermarket: Try doing some of your shopping at a local farmer's market. If you can, walk or bike there. Of the total energy used in the United States per year, 4 percent is used to produce food, and between 10 and 13 percent is used to transport it. On average, U.S. supermarket food travels 1,500 to 2,500 miles before it reaches the family table. Buying local food can reduce the amount of petroleum consumed to transport your dinner by as much as 95 percent. - The Green Book

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