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Editorial: Past Time for Later Start Times

Teenagers are sleep deprived, and sleep deprivation takes a significant toll on safety, health and learning. We’ve known this for decades. But for decades, literally, Fairfax County Public Schools (and Montgomery County, Md.) have let a combination of reactionary blabber ("buck up and get moving;" "just tell them to go to bed earlier") and organizational resistance prevent implementing a solution to this very real problem. Getting up at 5:30 or 6 a.m. to hop on a school bus at 5:45 a.m. or even as late at 6:30 a.m. to get to school by 7:20 a.m. is not healthy for teenagers. It is nearly impossible for teenagers to go to sleep before 11 p.m. or midnight. Fairfax County high school students average six hours of sleep a night on weeknights. Research shows they need nine hours of sleep. Research has also quantified the costs of sleep deprivation.

Commentary: Dean Supports Beyer

I’ve always stood for the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. When I started my presidential campaign in 2003, I was against the Iraq War, and had worked hard as Governor of Vermont to create marriage equality and universal health care in my home state. Those positions weren’t totally popular at the time. But I believe candidates should pay attention not only to their prospective constituents, but also to their internal compass.

Editorial: Celebrate Earth Day

Get outside with your family, participate in group activities, or just walk in your favorite park.

Earth Day is April 22, observed April 19-27 and beyond. Fairfax County offers many useful and educational ways to enjoy the day. Don’t miss the chance to get outside, observe the developing spring weather, flora and fauna. Here are some of the opportunities:

Dying of Curiosity

As I was completing last week’s column ("I Thought I Was a Goner") and thanking my oncology nurse, Ron, in the process, for the excellent care he has provided me for nearly five years now; a week after I wrote a column thanking my Certified Holistic Health Coach, Rebecca Nenner, for the health and fitness-type knowledge she has given me over those same five years; it dawned on me that perhaps my subconscious mind knew something that my conscious mind didn’t: that I should move closer to the undertaker like Radar’s Uncle Ernest did two days before he died, in the M*A*S*H episode titled "Novacaine Mutiny" from season four.

Arlington Lifestyle Blooms in the Spring

The days are getting longer, the temperatures are on the rise, and Arlington residents are ready to finally enjoy the benefits of their urban neighborhoods. After what felt like an exceptionally long winter, people throughout Arlington have paid their dues and are planning their recreational activities for the upcoming months. Longtime locals and newer transplants to the area agree that a world of opportunities opens up in Arlington as springtime weather approaches. Whether in search of an endorphin rush, or somewhere to mingle with other Arlingtonians, places to go are aplenty and the area has more luster after the snow banks melt and the air loses its bite.

Editorial: Challenging Budgets

Local Government should be able to access income taxes to give relief on real estate taxes.

Northern Virginia governments are facing shortfalls in the classic budget sense: projected revenues are less than last year’s expenditures plus increases in costs.

Another Milestone

March 30, 2014. My age 59 and a half (9/30/54 is my date of birth). The age at which money deposited into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) can be withdrawn without incurring a 10 percent early-withdrawal penalty from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Not that I’m retiring. I am remembering though when this cancer-centric life of mine began.

Commentary: Mental Health and Expansion of Medicaid

There is a growing consensus forming in the General Assembly that now is the time to improve the safety net for mental health services. Both the House and Senate budgets increase funding for these services by millions of dollars (House proposed a $10 million increase and the Senate $20 million) above the proposed budget of $36 million that Governor McDonnell presented in December.

Editorial: Income Gap Alive and Well

Statistics make life in the area sound idyllic, but many families are left out in the land of plenty.

Northern Virginia is a place of wonder and plenty. So says the New York Times this past week in, "Income Gap Meet the Longevity Gap," (March 15, 2014).

Letter to the Editor: Historical Society’s Role in Arlington

I wish to commend “Arlington Connection” for the excellent article by Steve Hibbard (“Exploring Arlington History,” March 12-18) about efforts to capture and relate the history of Arlington County. The attention to the Arlington Historical Society (AHS), as well as the Center for Local History (CLH) at Central Library, the Black Heritage Museum, Arlington National Cemetery, and the County Office of Historical Preservation will benefit all Arlingtonians by letting them know what is going on and where to find out more about programs. It is worth mentioning that the Arlington Heritage Center, originally intended as a “one-stop” introduction for visitors to Arlington, could become a reality if space were to be found in the planned County building that will be part of redeveloped Courthouse Square.

Editorial: Voting Against Virginia?

Local proponents of expanding health coverage for poor people have a point about those in the General Assembly voting against it.

When Delegates Scott Surovell, Charniele Herring and Rob Krupicka, along with Sen. Adam Ebbin got together to make the case for expanding Medicaid in Virginia, they brought slide presentations, charts, spreadsheets, poll results and more.

Whew!

Originally, this column was to be a discussion about the communication process between my doctor and this patient. Specifically, the time lag between when tests are performed/completed and when those results are communicated to the doctor who in turn – per this patient’s request, e-mails them to me. In the olden days, results were most likely offered up in person; in the post-olden days, more likely a phone call was made; presently, at least in my experience, results most likely will be e-mailed. I imagine an enduring problem for the patient – during all three "days," has been the time waiting for test results and hearing about them from your doctor. Excruciating is one of the most accurate characterizations of that delay, combined with an unhealthy dose of helplessness. Eventually, if you live long enough, you sort of become accustomed to the process and learn to roll with the punches, both figuratively and literally. Nevertheless, the patience and experience you learn can’t totally stop the rampant speculation that keeps you up at night and sleepy during the day.

Editorial: Take the Money

No downside to gaining health care for 200,000 or more; 30,000 jobs and millions of dollars for hospitals from expansion of Medicaid.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is right to make expansion of health coverage part of the budget process.

Letter to the Editor: Educate Drivers About Bicyclists

To the Editor: Bike Lanes on King Street are unsafe but even more, they are unnecessary.They are unnecessary because: 1. There are alternate safe paths for bicyclists to the metro and Old Town. 2. Those few bicyclists who use this route have a direct route to the Metro and beyond using the vehicle lanes on King Street.

Letter to the Editor: Conscientious Employee

To the Editor: Virginia Hospital Center excels in many medical arenas and is a stand-out in the region. However, aside from its outstanding medical reputation and recent glowing achievement of the hard earned Magnet Nursing status, it appears the hospital leaves no stone unturned when it comes to excellence. The Starbucks located in the lobby of the hospital is a well-attended gathering hole for popular drinks and good pastries. As a true lover of lattes, I am a frequent customer when I visit the hospital or adjacent medical offices.

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