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News
Call to Action: Volunteers Wanted at Woodbridge Police Station

· Good morning Prince William – The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program – RSVP is looking for volunteers age 55 and older to help out at the Police Station in Woodbridge. Duties include moving vehicles around for maintenance, picking up supplies and delivering items between stations. Please call Coleen at (703) 369-5292 ext. 207 to learn more about this and many more opportunities.

· Habitat for Humanity cordially invites you to the Capitol Steps program at Metz Middle School on Saturday February 22nd at 7pm. You can be assured this will be a hilarious show on current events. Tickets are just $35 and can be purchased on line at: habitatpw.org. Cheers to the Bull Run Rotary Club for their sponsorship of this event.

· Brain Injury Services is looking for a few more volunteers needed to visit clients in specific neighborhoods. They have a client in Fairfax who would love the company of Columbia University alum as he is very proudly of the class of 1940. They also have a lady in McLean who is Iranian-American and loves to chat about culture and interesting magazines. Please email Michelle at: mthyen@braininjurysvcs.org to learn more.

· ACTS is hosting its annual Love Life event on February 15th from noon to 4pm at Manassas Mall. There will be activities for kids and a variety of local resources you can connect with. It is a great way to take a break from shopping on a Saturday afternoon!

· Help feed the hungry! The SERVE campus needs some dedicated volunteers to screen clients seeking food assistance. Please contact Jan for details at jhawkins@nvfs.org. Also please remember to mark your calendars for Saturday March 8th for the Annual Strike Out Hunger Bowl-a-Thon for SERVE. Start gathering your friends and family and form a 5 member team to compete in this fun event at Bowl America in Manassas. This event gets better every year and of course for a great cause. Please email Pam at: pboyle@nvfs.org for sponsorship opportunities and more info.

 

· BEACON Adult Literacy needs volunteer tutors at a couple of their sites. The next tutor training is Saturday February 15th to give you all the info you need to make this a very rewarding experience for you and your student. Please visit their website for more details at: beaconliteracy.org or by calling (703) 368-7491.

 

· Literacy Volunteers of America-Prince William needs you to help an adult learn to read and write. The next Tutor Training Workshop is March 22, 2014. There is a one-time fee of $35 for materials. Imagine the difference you can make in someone’s life! Contact at lvapw@aol.com.

· Birmingham Green Nursing Home has a very special need for a volunteer who can speak polish. If that is you, please call Zach at (703) 257-6252 to learn more.

· Habitat for Humanity still needs volunteers at the home of a senior veteran. Repairs include installing grab bars, repairing plumbing problems, fixing gutters and siding and other accessibility accommodations. These repairs will allow this very cute couple to continue living in their home. Please call (703) 369-6708 to learn more or visit their website at: habitatpwc.org. Habitat for Humanity also has a great volunteer program for scouts and middle schoolers by distributing door hangers in this neighborhood during the workdays. These door hangers have lots of good info on the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, the Restore and the Cars for Homes Program and give Habitat a special link to this neighborhood.

· If you are looking for other opportunities, please don’t forget to call my wonderful team at Volunteer Prince William. Coleen can help you with the Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP) opportunities at (703) 369-5292 ext. 207, Shelley can help with any individual or group project and send you weekly updates if you’d like. Shelley is at (703) 369-5292 ext. 201, and Bonnie can help you with opportunities available in Disaster Preparedness at (703) 369-5292 ext. 202. Please visit our newly re-vamped website at www.volunteerprincewilliam.org. Thanks so much for all you do in our community.

News
Moser: Confronting Panic, Fear in the Face of a Hip Replacement

One of the first rules of writing is to write about what you know. I confess, I do not follow that rule very often. If I did, I probably would have exhausted my writing skills three years ago, when I first began writing for Potomac Local. I tend to write more about what I feel and then attempt to add some factual, useful content and some helpful links so by the end of a column I know more than when I began. I hope it works that way for you when you read it, too.

Sometimes the “knowing” and the “feeling” are not compatible. Monday morning, I am going to Sentara hospital for a hip replacement. Almost everyone knows what that is, but I suspect not many of us actually know how that is done unless you are one of the 285,000 patients per year who undergo this surgery.

This page from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons will tell you nearly everything you need to know about the procedure, including why the surgery is done, how surgery is performed, pre-operative and post-operative care, and quite a few illustrations.

If you are brave, here’s a video, but I’ll give fair warning, it is graphic. I’m telling you that because those words accompany the video. I didn’t watch it! None of those pages can tell you how hip surgery feels. Hopefully, I will be well sedated and I won’t be able to tell you how it feels either.

I can tell you how I feel emotionally in one word: “Panicked!”

One of the hold-over issues from an unstable childhood is the need for control. When I was young, I had no control over my situation. Some yelling, screaming parent would culminate a tirade with, “I can’t handle her anymore! You take her!”

The next thing I knew, I was being sent to live with mom or dad or my grandparents.

I spent a lot of time being scared and unhappy, and as an adult, I recognize I felt that way because I was powerless. Even today, some forty five to fifty years after that turmoil, some traits still sneak out. I can’t stand uncertainty. I hate to feel like I am not in control.

One of the things that makes me a terrible automotive passenger or causes me to be afraid of flying is that I have no control of the situation. I am putting my safety in the hands of someone else.

So, you can probably imagine how I feel about surgery. I’m entering an environment where I am totally dependent upon others. I’ve met my surgeon twice and looked him up at the Virginia Board of Medicine Practitioner Information. My doctor has no actions against his practice and has paid no claims. That tells me he hasn’t been sued for malpractice. There was no information listed regarding his awards or credentials, but based on about 24 minutes with him on two occasions, I like him!

So, wish me luck. I’m sure I’m going to have one of those 95% successful surgeries. (I am assuming I won’t keel over from a panic attack!)

News
Call to Action: Black History Month Exhibit to Open

Good morning  – Brain Injury Services is looking a 12-month PALS friendship with a young Burke area man in his 20’s, loves any and all sports and would love a once or twice a month outing to enjoy sports and varied activities. Several more volunteers are needed to visit clients in specific neighborhoods. They have a client in Manassas who would like company to help with her crafting. They also have a gentleman who would love the company of a Columbia University alum as he is very proudly of the class of 1940. Please email Michelle at: mthyen@braininjurysvcs.org to learn more.

· Reflections for Black History Month at the Center for the Arts invites all to the grand opening of the Reflections Exhibit on Saturday February 8 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Delta Sigma Theta is hosting this event with wine and cheese to celebrate the works of 20 artists nationally and internationally recognized from the University of Maryland Driskell Arts Center. Please visit their website at: pwcacdst.org to learn more.

· ACTS is hosting its annual Love Life event on February 15 from noon to 4 p.m. at Manassas Mall. There will be activities for kids and a variety of local resources you can connect with. It is a great way to take a break from shopping on a Saturday afternoon!

· Help feed the hungry! The SERVE campus needs some dedicated volunteers to screen clients seeking food assistance. Please contact Jan for details at jhawkins@nvfs.org. Also please remember to mark your calendars for Saturday March 8 for the Annual Strike Out Hunger Bowl-a-Thon for SERVE. Start gathering your friends and family and form a 5 member team to compete in this fun event at Bowl America in Manassas. This event gets better every year and of course for a great cause. Please email Pam at: pboyle@nvfs.org for sponsorship opportunities and more info.

· BEACON Adult Literacy needs volunteer tutors at a couple of their sites. The next tutor training is Saturday February 15 to give you all the info you need to make this a very rewarding experience for you and your student. Please visit their website for more details at: beaconliteracy.org or by calling (703) 368-7491.

· Literacy Volunteers of America- Prince William needs you to help an adult learn to read and write. The next Tutor Training Workshop is March 22, 2014. There is a one-time fee of $35 for materials. Imagine the difference you can make in someone’s life! Contact at lvapw@aol.com.

· I have a very special request for volunteer drivers on Saturday mornings to give a lift to gentlemen living in and around the Winter Shelter in Woodbridge. It’s as simple as picking up 2 or 3 individuals and taking them to the Laundromat for 2 hours and giving them a ride back to the shelter with their clean clothes. This is a super easy, quick volunteer project. Please call Juan at (703) 583-7440 for more info. It’s just a little far and a lot cold for these gentlemen to walk there!

· SERVE has an urgent need for adult volunteers to help screen clients for food assistance on weekdays. As you can imagine with this tough winter, this is a very busy time of year for them. You must be able to work with computers, pass a background check, and Spanish speaking skills would be extra helpful. Please Jan at (574) 748-2621 to learn more about this very important community service.

· Birmingham Green Nursing Home has a very special need for a volunteer who can speak polish. If that is you, please call Zach at (703) 257-6252 to learn more.

· Habitat for Humanity still needs volunteers at the home of a senior veteran. Repairs include installing grab bars, repairing plumbing problems, fixing gutters and siding and other accessibility accommodations. These repairs will allow this very cute couple to continue living in their home. Please call (703) 369-6708 to learn more or visit their website at: habitatpwc.org. Habitat for Humanity also has a great volunteer program for scouts and middle schoolers by distributing door hangers in this neighborhood during the workdays. These door hangers have lots of good info on the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, the Restore and the Cars for Homes Program and give Habitat a special link to this neighborhood.

· If you are looking for other opportunities, please don’t forget to call my wonderful team at Volunteer Prince William. Coleen can help you with the Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP) opportunities at (703) 369-5292 ext. 207, Shelley can help with any individual or group project and send you weekly updates if you’d like. Shelley is at (703) 369-5292 ext. 201, and Bonnie can help you with opportunities available in Disaster Preparedness at (703) 369-5292 ext. 202. Please visit our newly re-vamped website at www.volunteerprincewilliam.org. Thanks so much for all you do in our community.

News
These Workout Pants are Tighter: The Fear of Gaining Back Weight

Mom on the Run: The Next Chapter

My eyes narrow as I pull on my workout pants. Hey …

I step across my bedroom towards the full-length mirror and stand in front of it, hands on hips. I step closer and turn left, rotate so my body is reflected full-length, sideways. Deliberately, I move my hands down and grab my butt. Well, more precisely, I grab the seat of my pants. No, no, no! These pants, this fabric, this was definitely looser, right here, this part, just, what, the other day? Weren’t they? Are they that much tighter? In just a day? Is this possible?

OK, I try to think slowly, rationally. Maybe it’s the pants. Right? I recently took the ones on the bottom of the stack and swapped them with the ones on the top, knowing I do laundry frequently enough that my workout pants aren’t wearing evenly; I wear some a lot more frequently than I wear others. Maybe this pair is just less worn, less stretched, so they are smaller, tighter? Optimistically I peel off the one pair, cross to the dresser, and select a pair from the bottom, of the stack in the drawer. I shake out the pants, which are identical to the pair I just took off – same brand, same size, same color, purchased at the same time – and step into them, one leg at a time. I pull them up, settle them around hips, and move back to the mirror.

Where … aaah! No! It can’t be! But my hands, grasping the fabric, tell me it’s true. There is no doubt. My pants are tighter. In the seat. This pair, and the other pair too. I have – shudder – gained weight.

This, then, is the terror of anyone who has lost weight: gaining it back. It has been almost exactly two years since I started going to the gym and cutting back on food. I don’t know exactly how many pounds I lost, I didn’t weigh myself before I started. But I lost four sizes in total, and I love being this smaller size! I love looking good in clothes, and feeling healthy, and mostly looking good in all the lovely colorful fashionable new clothes that my smaller size required me to buy.

I have been absolutely determined to maintain my new size, and I’m really working at it. I honestly have achieved the much advertised change in lifestyle: I spend my evenings at the gym. Weekend activities revolve around, well, activity. I hardly ever eat bread or dessert or drink soda anymore. I drink protein drinks at breakfast and eat fruit for a mid-afternoon snack. I virtually never miss a scheduled spin cycle class, and I am competitive and a little crazy about weight-lifting, annoying all my male gym buddies by comparing my weights to any other woman who happens to wander into the free weights section of Gold’s Gym.

Except for the past month. It’s been trying, the beginning of the New Year. Schedule changes have cost me more than a few spin classes. Holidays and general feelings of complacency have led to some poor eating choices (I look good! I exercise! Sure, I can have some chips and queso! Yum, cookies?). My husband took over the daily dog walks. And now … now my pants are tight! Aughhh!

I twist and turn in front of the mirror. I take the workout pants off and try a pair of jeans: same thing. My clothes still fit, sure, but they are definitely tighter. In the rear, and, I stop and grab my belly, in the waist, too? No!

I rush to face the mirror again. I stand, pooch out my belly, in what even in my worry I understand to be an exaggerated fat pose. And my fear is rewarded: look! I turn sideways again, inspect my bulgy midsection. No no no! This can’t be!

I stop and close my eyes. I breathe, and set my jaw. OK, fine, I think. I can do this. I lost the weight once. I maintained it. Everyone gains a little bit of weight over the holidays. Life has been stressful. But it’s just a few pounds, just a little bit extra, and I will lose it again!

Still. I shudder. I don’t want to go back. I turn, look into the mirror one more time, and say goodbye to chips and queso. Again.

 

News
Moser: Why is there no School?

It seems no matter what we do, snow wins! This latest snowfall, forecast to be 4-10 inches, was much closer to the minimum than the maximum.  VDOT was prepared with over 4,000 vehicles to clear snow and treat the 17,000 miles of roads in Northern Virginia. VDOT provided us with a tool to track the snowplows and ascertain where the plows had been and would be going. You can search (after 2” of snow) by zip code or street or address.

That VDOT page has everything needed to declare war on snow. You can view the mobilization plan, road status and resources right on that page. There’s even a legend to help you identify the many graphics that determine road conditions. With VDOT boasting 4,000 pieces of equipment, we all feel confident that no matter what nature throws at us, we can handle it!

So, what happened? Schools were closed on Jan 21, 22, and 23. On Friday, schools opened two hours late.

I absolutely would not want to be the person who decides whether school is open, closed or delayed due to inclement weather. That job should come with a warning: “The number of people you please may vary by time, date, location and number of preceding days off.”

I saw numerous comments on Facebook asking, “Why are schools closed? The roads are clear!”’

Karen Peak has the answer to that. She compiled a portfolio of photographs that she took and added photos that others took. She remained in contact with our Neabsco School Board Representative, Lisa Bell. Bell also travelled the roads and photographed some deplorable conditions.

Here are just a few observations that affect our communities:

Prince William County encompasses 348 square miles.

We have 85,000 children in our schools.

VDOT is responsible for clearing streets and roads on a priority basis. The schools are responsible for clearing their own property.

Prince William County is not responsible for snow removal. This text from PWCDOTVDOT provides all road maintenance in the County, including snow removal. VDOT fills potholes and repaves roads, clears drainage ditches along the roads, services storm drain outlets, and mows along roadsides and on medians. Contact VDOT by calling 1-800-367-7623. 

These arctic temperatures breed ice. If the sun shines enough to begin a melt, the pavement refreezes as soon as the sun is past peak. There just isn’t much anyone can do about layers of ice except pray for spring.

Not all residents are capable of shoveling snow. Some are ill, handicapped or elderly and we need some way to address that, BUT a vast number of apparently healthy residents seem to feel no obligation to clear their own sidewalks, let alone do any extra work to benefit children walking to school.

Yes, it absolutely is dangerous for children walking to school in ice, but this is not something to blame the schools, the board of county supervisors or VDOT. You needn’t blame global warming or Mother Nature or God. What you can do is have online classes or an alternate education plan like the Khan Academy. Home schooled children continued to work through the ice, snow and arctic temperatures. We all need a better plan. Whether we’re talking about children going to school or adults going to work, we need to find a way to function.

News
Call to Action: Homeless Near Woodbridge Shelter Need Help Getting to Laundromat

· Good morning Prince William – I have a very special request for volunteer drivers on Saturday mornings to give a lift to gentlemen living in and around the Winter Shelter in Woodbridge. It’s as simple as picking up 2 or 3 individuals and taking them to the Laundromat for 2 hours and giving them a ride back to the shelter with their clean clothes. This is a super easy, quick volunteer project. Please call Juan at (703) 583-7440 for more info. It’s just a little far and a lot cold for these gentlemen to walk there!

· BEACON Adult Literacy needs volunteer tutors at a couple of their sites. The next tutor training is Saturday February 15th to give you all the info you need to make this a very rewarding experience for you and your student. Please visit their website for more details at: beaconliteracy.org or by calling (703) 368-7491.

· SERVE has an urgent need for adult volunteers to help screen clients for food assistance on weekdays. As you can imagine with this tough winter, this is a very busy time of year for them. You must be able to work with computers, pass a background check, and Spanish speaking skills would be extra helpful. Please Jan at (574) 748-2621 to learn more about this very important community service.

· Birmingham Green Nursing Home would love to have several volunteers to give cultural talks or special cultural performances with song, instruments or dancing throughout the year. They would like to kick off this program with volunteers to speak on topics for Black History Month. Please call Zach at (703) 257-6252 to learn more.

· Reflections for Black History Month at the Center for the Arts invites all to the grand opening of the Reflections Exhibit on Saturday February 8th from 6-8pm. Delta Sigma Theta is hosting this event with wine and cheese to celebrate the works of 20 artists nationally and internationally recognized from the University of Maryland Driskell Arts Center. Please visit their website at: pwcacdst.org to learn more

· Please mark your calendars for Saturday March 8th for the Annual Strike Out Hunger Bowl-a-Thon for SERVE. Start gathering your friends and family and form a 5 member team to compete in this fun event at Bowl America in Manassas. This event gets better every year and of course for a great cause. Please email Pam at: pboyle@nvfs.org for sponsorship opportunities and more info.

· Habitat for Humanity needs volunteers beginning this week at the home of a senior veteran. Repairs include installing grab bars, repairing plumbing problems, fixing gutters and siding and other accessibility accommodations. These repairs will allow this very cute couple to continue living in their home. Please call (703) 369-6708 to learn more or visit their website at: habitatpwc.org. Habitat for Humanity also has a great volunteer program for scouts and middle schoolers by distributing door hangers in this neighborhood during the workdays. These door hangers have lots of good info on the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, the Restore and the Cars for Homes Program and give Habitat a special link to this neighborhood.

· Brain Injury Services is looking for several volunteers to visit clients in specific neighborhoods. They have a client in Manassas who would like company to help with her crafting. They also have a gentleman who would love the company of a Columbia University alum as he is very proudly of the class of 1940. Please email Michelle at: mthyen@braininjurysvcs.org to learn more.

· Literacy Volunteers of America-Prince William needs you to help an adult learn to read and write. The next Tutor Training Workshop is March 22, 2014. There is a one-time fee of $35 for materials. Imagine the difference you can make in someone’s life! Contact at lvapw@aol.com.

· If you are looking for other opportunities, please don’t forget to call my wonderful team at Volunteer Prince William. Coleen can help you with the Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP) opportunities at (703) 369-5292 ext. 207, Shelley can help with any individual or group project and send you weekly updates if you’d like. Shelley is at (703) 369-5292 ext. 201, and Bonnie can help you with opportunities available in Disaster Preparedness at (703) 369-5292 ext. 202. Please visit our newly re-vamped website at www.volunteerprincewilliam.org. Thanks so much for all you do in our community.

News
Moser: ‘Pyramid Project’ at Prince William – Manassas Line Very Tempting

Pyramid Center GDP

I had a pretty amazing experience this week when I attended a MIDCO (Mid-County Civic Association) meeting with about 75 other interested citizens!

Why is that amazing? Well, typically the number of citizens attending a MIDCO, NAA, (Neabsco Action Alliance) OLRCA  (Occoquan Lake Ridge Civic Association) or a LOCCA (Lake Ridge Occoquan Coles Civic Association) is around 25 people. There were so many people in the Occoquan Room at the County Center that we had to move to another, larger meeting room on the other side of the building.

The number of residents seemed appropriate to opine on the Pyramid Project, a huge proposed development at the corner of Liberia and the Prince William Parkway. This development is intended for 101 acres of land at a premium intersection dividing Manassas and Prince William County.

The original proposal has undergone a number of changes since submission in August of 2012, most recently updated on the county web as of March 2013. At the MIDCO meeting, Developer Carlos Montenegro brought an even more recent version of the proposal that further reduced the number of residential units.

The project is very tempting, both for the county and residents because the development will include a change to the Prince William County Parkway that will alleviate congestion at that failing intersection at Liberia and the Parkway.  (If you want to learn how VDOT determines a failing intersection, try pages 24 and 25 of this hefty document! )

I think a few things merit consideration:

  1. If we change the comprehensive plan as requested we will be removing yet another CEC (Community Employment Center) designation and adding more residential.
  2. PWC staff, residents and the developer should also be working in tandem with Manassas because this development will definitely impact the city.
  3. While the realignment of the Parkway will provide relief to residents wishing to turn left to go to Rte. 234, It really does nothing for people travelling into the city or turning right on Rte. 28 toward I-66. (The same is true in reverse if you are leaving the city.)
  4. The development may be alleviating traffic at that intersection, but it is still adding cars from 300 homes and 400 apartments.
  5. While alleviating traffic at that intersection, what about the next intersection or the one after that?

The development promises high end retail, but Virginia Gateway is only 11.3 miles away from the intersection of Liberia and the Parkway. What about the competition to Hastings Marketplace right across the street? What are the impacts on schools? The developer is proffering this massive piece of roadwork…there likely won’t be any school proffers from this deal.

One of the reasons Neabsco Action Alliance was founded is to work collaboratively across districts with residents, business and government. We are part of group called FOCAL (Federation of Civic Associations for Land use). We invite residents to contact us, come to our meetings, attend the planning commission hearings, attend (or watch online) the Board of County Supervisors meetings, sign up for e -notifications, or any other way you choose to become engaged in your community.

You may think this development doesn’t impact you. I assure you it does. We may live in seven different districts in Prince William County, but we are all connected by roads, jobs, schools, healthcare, land use, transportation, and that one indefinable esthetic; community.

There is one thing I want you to remember. If you weren’t one of those 75 people, we don’t know what you think of this proposed development. You can tell me in the comments. I’ll be sure to share them.

News
Call to Action: Strike Out Hunger Bowl-a-Thon

· Good morning – SERVE is looking for a few hearty volunteers to help with the Annual Point in Time Count of the sheltered and unsheltered homeless population. This event is Wednesday January 29th from 6am-11am. You must be at least 18yrs old since it will include travel to campsites to offer assistance, food and supplies. Please Jan at (574) 748-2621 to learn more about this very important community service.

· Please mark your calendars for Saturday March 8th for the Annual Strike Out Hunger Bowl-a-Thon for SERVE. Start gathering your friends and family and form a 5 member team to compete in this fun event at Bowl America in Manassas. This event gets better every year and of course for a great cause. Please email Pam at: pboyle@nvfs.org for sponsorship opportunities and more info.

· Habitat for Humanity needs volunteers beginning this week at the home of a senior veteran. Repairs include installing grab bars, repairing plumbing problems, fixing gutters and siding and other accessibility accommodations. These repairs will allow this very cute couple to continue living in their home. Please call (703) 369-6708 to learn more or visit their website at: habitatpwc.org. Habitat for Humanity also has a great volunteer program for scouts and middle schoolers by distributing door hangers in neighborhoods across the community. These door hangers have lots of good info on the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, the Restore and the Cars for Homes Program.

· RSVP- the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program is looking for senior volunteer’s age 55+ to drive veterans and/or their spouses to their doctor’s appointments here in our community. This program just started 6 months ago and has grown quickly with the number of vets needing a safe ride. Please email Coleen at: chersson@volunteerprincewilliam.org to learn more. These appointments are scheduled in advance and will work easily with your other commitments!

· The super teen volunteers with the Joe 15 team are having their 7th Annual Blood Drive on Saturday January 25th from 9am-2:30pm. Please give the gift of life and support these great kids by scheduling your appointment at: redcrossblood.org/make-donation and enter sponsor code: 05312539

· BARN Transitional Housing needs a volunteer driver to go to Woodbridge once a week and pick up donations. The job just takes 4 hours and you do not need to load or unload just have a good driving record. Please call Tammy at (571) 428-2571 to learn more.

· Brain Injury Services is looking for several volunteers to visit clients in specific neighborhoods. They have a lady in Fairfax would love company to assist her with fitness routine and grocery shopping. They have a gentleman in Centreville would love to learn how to play chess. They have a client in Manassas who would like company and to get out for lunch or a movie and lastly they have a teenager in Alexandria who would love to play basketball or go to a movie. Please email Michelle at: mthyen@braininjurysvcs.org to learn more.

· Literacy Volunteers of America-Prince William needs you to help an adult learn to read and write. The next Tutor Training Workshop is March 22, 2014. There is a one-time fee of $35 for materials. Imagine the difference you can make in someone’s life! Contact at lvapw@aol.com.

· Catholic Charities has a couple of programs for the immigrant community. Volunteers are needed in both Manassas and Woodbridge as ESOL and Citizenship teachers. Training and all the materials are provided. This is a unique opportunity. Please call (571) 208-1572 for all the specifics.

· If you are looking for other opportunities, please don’t forget to call my wonderful team at Volunteer Prince William. Coleen can help you with the Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP) opportunities at (703) 369-5292 ext. 207, Shelley can help with any individual or group project and send you weekly updates if you’d like. Shelley is at (703) 369-5292 ext. 201, and Bonnie can help you with opportunities available in Disaster Preparedness at (703) 369-5292 ext. 202. Please visit our newly re-vamped website at www.volunteerprincewilliam.org. Thanks so much for all you do in our community.

News
Potomac Local Launches Real Estate Section, Improves Web Site

First we brought independent local news to Prince William and Stafford counties. And now we’ve launched the region’s most powerful locally-maintained and insightful real estate tool.

Prominently featured at in the top main navigation section of our website, the Potomac Local Real Estate section features listings for home sales and rentals, commercial properties, land, as well as market trends and statistics for Prince William and Stafford counties and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

It’s easy to use, includes up-to-the-minute data from professional real estate listings, and it allows private sellers and Realtors to add their listings directly to our site. With this new tool you’ll know the second something new comes onto the local market.

Being a local news site is much more than just bringing you the headlines. It’s also about providing a place for the community to gather online, to comment, to connect with neighbors, and it’s place for soon-to-be residents to learn more about our community and why we call it home.

This week, we’ve done more than just launch a new real estate section – we’ve made the news you’ve come to rely on us for easier to find by placing our content in a popular scrolling format on our homepage. We’ve reduced clutter on our site after you told us you wanted more local news and content and less noise.

We’re not done improving our site, either. In the coming weeks you’ll notice more obituary information on our site because we know it’s not good enough to cover the people in our community right now — we also need to remember those who came before us who worked hard to make our neighborhoods what they are today.

You will also see a greater commitment to community news as new editors will begin covering specific neighborhoods to find details on the news that impacts all of us. Their goal: Continue our tradition of telling good stories about the people, places, and local issues that impact our lives. I’m sure you’d expect nothing less from your award-winning local news source.

Thank you for your continued support of independent news. I look forward to continuing to serve you in 2014.

News
It’s the New Year, So When Can I have My Gym Back?

Mom on the Run: The Next Chapter

The couple is standing over by the abs chair, studying it intently. The man and the woman are middle-aged, perhaps a little older, and each is wearing a faded, loose white t-shirt, long baggy shorts, and stiff, new-looking sneakers. His wire-frame glasses have slipped down toward the end of his nose. Her hair is frizzy and she looks generally rumpled.

The man is holding a piece of paper, and they both consult it, several times, while looking hard at the abs chair. They talk back and forth to each other, then finally the man nods. He looks at his wife – it seems clear that’s who she is, the couple just seems to match – and hands her the paper. Then he approaches the chair, puts his hands on the armrest handles, and steps up into it.

Tentatively, feet on the lower bars, he turns to his left, leaving his hands on the handholds, and rotates toward the padded back of the chair. He lifts up on his tip-toes, tries to twist and fully press against the back, but of course he can’t, not with his hands the way they are, gripping the opposite handles.

I’m standing just across from the couple, about 10 feet away. I’m with Brett, my regular training partner, waiting for him to finish his triceps pulldowns, after which it will be my turn. I’ve been at this gym for about 18 months, and I have regular gym friends, a regular training partner, a regular schedule, and a regular workout routine. This gym and its varied equipment are familiar and comfortable.

But I recognize the couple and their dilemma. That was me, not so long very long ago, and I remember it well. I was fortunate enough to be dragged around the gym for the first few months by a friend with 30 years’ weightlifting experience. He knew what he was doing, and he showed me. By the time his schedule changed and kept us from working out together I knew enough to keep going, and not be completely lost in the gym.

Most of the time, my Gold’s Gym is filled with people who know what they’re doing, regulars who move comfortably between machines and equipment, who have their routines and their weights in their heads and who don’t stand and stare and try figure out how to work everything. But it’s January now, and the gym is full of Resolutionists, people who got memberships and shiny new sneakers for Christmas and now, in the spirit of the season, are beginning their long-delayed exercise routines.

“Don’t worry,” my friend Luke said last January, when I was frustrated by all the extra people milling about and taking up space on the machines. “They got gym memberships for Christmas, they started coming at New Year’s, and they’ll give it up for Lent.” I had laughed then – ha ha, I’m a gym regular now, and entitled to roll my eyes at confused new members! – and darned if it didn’t turn out to be true! So now I know, and I feel gentle and tolerant towards the new people in here, people who are slowing me down and moving stuff and leaving weights in the wrong places … but who are either genuinely trying, or who will be gone soon enough. That was me once, and I stayed and improved and got healthier, and I hope it sticks for some of these newbies clogging up the place.

So now, today, I am watching the couple out of the corner of my eye as I do my set. OK, I decide, I’ll help them. I’ll walk over there and smile encouragingly and offer to show them how to use the abs chair. It’s a risky thing, offering assistance, because people don’t always appreciate the suggestion that they don’t know what they’re doing. Sometimes they are embarrassed, and sometimes, “No, no, I’m fine,” they tell me irritably, waving me away. But this couple is obviously inexperienced, and I’m old enough and un-muscular enough that my help might be accepted. Yes, I decide, I’ll try.

But by the time I finish my set (“thirteen … fourteen … fifteen”) and move the pin back to Brett’s heavier weight … hey, where did they go? The man and his wife have scooted away. I look around the free weights room, try to find them, see what they’re doing now, see if they need help. Wherever they are, they should be easy to spot.

The couple seems to be gone, though. I don’t see them anywhere. I am partially relieved – yes! Clear out! Leave me my gym! – but I am disappointed, too. Used regularly and effectively, the gym is the tool to better health, better fitting clothes, and better self-confidence. I hope the couple and all their machine-hogging Resolutionist friends stick it out.

Well, OK, I think, looking around at the gym, full with so many people that there is even a line at the water fountain; maybe not all of them. Some of them can stick it out, but I still wouldn’t mind having my gym back.

News
Moser: Why Don’t More People Care About the Grave Situation at Prince William’s High School Site

Wednesday night I attended the Prince William Committee of 100 forum. The program, titled, “Can You Rest in Peace in Prince William County?” was in direct response to recent events involving the discovery of burial sites at the proposed location of Prince William County’s 12th high school near the intersection of Va. 234 and Hoadly Road.

I have been interested in this topic since the flurry of activity that began (for me) in early November and wrote about it once, then again when I recapped the information that led to this point in a previous post.

Since then, I became friends with Carolyn Lynn on Facebook. I was finally able to see her face to face, when we arranged to meet at the C-100 forum. She’s a charming woman, well-spoken and knowledgeable in local history and genealogy.

We got better acquainted over dinner and were fortunate to share the table with Julie Langan, Acting Director and State Historic Preservation Officer, Virginia Department
of Historic Resources. Carolyn was able to ask Langan some questions that had been a point of concern and Carolyn and I were both pleased to learn Langan is not the enemy. Both Langan and Joanna Wilson Green, Archaeology Stewardship and Easements, Office of Preservation Incentives, Virginia Department of Historic Resources are sincere and concerned about the way this saga evolved. Yes, the permit to disinter was issued from their department, but they were simply doing their job as designated by state law.

I tried to put myself in Carolyn’s shoes and imagine what it must feel like to know your ancestors had been uprooted and removed from what was surely considered a final resting place at the time of interment.

One of the things we discussed was the comments people made on insidenova.com or the Washington Post. Carolyn said she tried not to read those comments because many were so negative. A feeling we definitely shared is why don’t more people care? The answer to that is probably very simple. The Lynn family is not your family.

I tried to imagine how it feels to be lost from your family and then re-discovered in such a public fashion. I thought about how little we know about the people who come and go from this world. So few of us are actually remembered for long. We are here, we live our lives and we are gone. A few generations pass, and it is entirely possible we are forgotten completely unless you have become famous or notorious.

People like Don Wilson, Director of RELIC and Bill Olson, President, Historic Prince William are joined by devoted volunteers like Robert Moser who spend an incredible amount of time ensuring our past is not forgotten. Folks like Carolyn Lynn and Bill Golden create blogs not only for family history, but to connect the past to the present and help others do the same.

We are an evolving county, with vastly different citizens than twenty years ago. It’s important not to lose track of our past while we continue to build our future.
You can read the recap of the Prince William Committee of 100 meeting here.

News
Call to Action: Care Packages for Soldiers Being Assembled at Leesylvania State Park

· Good morning – in celebration of the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend, please join the wonderful folks at Leesylvania State Park assemble care packages for soldiers. This event is in partnership with Operation Home Front. Donations of phone cards, baby wipes, tooth brushes, cameras and such will be collected and then assembled into individual packages for the troops. This is the perfect way to celebrate their service with a few goodies from you. This all takes place on Saturday January 18th from 11am-3pm at the Visitor Center. Please visit operationhomefront.net for more info.

· The super teen volunteers with the Joe 15 team are having their 7th Annual Blood Drive on Saturday January 25th from 9am-2:30pm. Please give the gift of life and support these great kids by scheduling your appointment at: redcrossblood.org/make-donation and enter sponsor code: 05312539

· BARN Transitional Housing needs a volunteer driver to go to Woodbridge once a week and pick up donations. The job just takes 4 hours and you do not need to load or unload just have a good driving record. Please call Tammy at (571) 428-2571 to learn more.

· The House of Mercy has re-launched their weekly job search meetings on Mondays 1-3pm. They are open to all and afford those unemployed or under employed a great way to network with other. Please call Ann at (703) 659-1636 to learn more

· Brain Injury Services is looking for several volunteers to visit clients in specific neighborhoods. They have a lady in Fairfax would love company to assist her with fitness routine and grocery shopping. They have a gentleman in Centreville would love to learn how to play chess. They have a client in Manassas who would like company and to get out for lunch or a movie and lastly they have a teenager in Alexandria who would love to play basketball or go to a movie. Please email Michelle at: mthyen@braininjurysvcs.org to learn more.

· Literacy Volunteers of America-Prince William needs you to help an adult learn to read and write. The next Tutor Training Workshop is March 22, 2014. There is a one-time fee of $35 for materials. Imagine the difference you can make in someone’s life! Contact at lvapw@aol.com.

· The Prince William Area Agency on Aging – Woodbridge area needs a volunteer for the Adult Day Care Center in Woodbridge. You will answer phones, direct messages, receive participants and visitors, pick-up and drop off mail, make copies, etc. Hours are 10am to 6pm Monday through Friday. A yearly TB test is required (have initial chest x-ray if results exhibit a false positives, followed by yearly screening done by a medical person) Call Melodee for more details: 703-792-4583.

· The Prince William Area Agency on Aging – Manassas area needs a volunteer to be a friendly visitor for a male shut-in. He needs a cherry visitor who can help him read his mail. Contact Barbara at 703-792-7175.

· Catholic Charities has a couple of programs for the immigrant community. Volunteers are needed in both Manassas and Woodbridge as ESOL and Citizenship teachers. Training and all the materials are provided. This is a unique opportunity. Please call (571) 208-1572 for all the specifics.

· SERVE has an URGENT need for volunteer drivers for the Food Distribution Center on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Drivers take the SERVE vans to area grocery stores and restaurants to pick-up donated food and then return to SERVE for unloading and distribution. You must be at least 21 years old with a clean driving record. Contact Jan at jhawkins@nvfs.org

· ACTS Food pantry in Dumfries needs volunteer drivers on Saturday and Sunday mornings to pick-up food donations from area grocery stores. It’s a quick 3 hour shift from 9am-noon to give families needed food from extra supplies. Please call Robin at (703) 441-8606 ext. 213 to learn more.

· If you are looking for other opportunities, please don’t forget to call my wonderful team at Volunteer Prince William. Coleen can help you with the Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP) opportunities at (703) 369-5292 ext. 207, Shelley can help with any individual or group project and send you weekly updates if you’d like. Shelley is at (703) 369-5292 ext. 201, and Bonnie can help you with opportunities available in Disaster Preparedness at (703) 369-5292 ext. 202. Please visit our newly re-vamped website at www.volunteerprincewilliam.org. Thanks so much for all you do in our community.

News
Davidson: Stafford Ice Skating Differed from Real Ice

I grew up admiring  Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill. They were amazing Olympic figure skaters!

One Christmas my parents bought the whole family ice skates. When the winter came to our home in Spotsylvania, and the temperatures fell well below freezing for a couple of weeks, the pond in front of my parents’ home would freeze over enough to safely go out on it. Then it was time to hit the ice. Literally. I fell a lot the first year, but after logging on many hours, I had “mastered” a few things.  By that time my Olympic rink had turned back in to a slushy farm pond.

 Thirty years have gone by.

This past Saturday, Stafford’s 350th Birthday bash included a skating rink, though there was no real ice. So naturally I dawned my skates and took to the rink.

A lot has changed in those 30 years. The ice was synthetic, the surface made of plastic. Most of the other skaters agreed it was very different from skating on real ice.

I’d like to use that as my excuse and not my age. But then I saw a young lady lace up her custom figure skates and hit the ice.  Celenia Sampson showed the crowd if you know what you’re doing, it doesn’t mater if it’s real or synthetic. Celinia coaches at the Ashburn Ice House. I may just have to get a few refresher lessons in before my parents pond freezes over again.

News
Moser: Legalize Pot or Not?

Opinion 

Quick! What is the number one cash crop in America? Cotton is the number one crop, but could that change if more states legalize marijuana sales as Colorado has done?

Estimates vary, but NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) touted marijuana as the number four cash crop in a 1998 study: NORML Report on U.S. Domestic Marijuana Production. Other studies place the marijuana cash crop value at fifteenth place, at least that’s according to a team of researchers and public policy experts from Carnegie Mellon University, Pepperdine University, UCLA and the RAND Corp.

This 2006 chart ranked marijuana as the largest cash crop, with an estimated value of 35.8 billion dollars! If you continue to scroll the chart, you’ll find how marijuana compared to other crops by state using production figures from US Department of Agriculture and estimated figures for marijuana, but here’s the breakdown for Virginia:

Virginia:
Hay                 $ 304.8 million
Marijuana     $ 191.8 million
Soybeans       $ 106. 7 million

What does all that mean? Well, 50% of the population think legalizing marijuana is a good idea and 50% don’t. So 50% of American people will use these figures to show the potential for profit and taxable income from marijuana and 50% of Americans won’t care what the value is, they just will not agree it is a good idea to legalize pot.

Thinking about this after seeing a raft of photographers record the moment, left me with a lot of questions. I wonder about driving while impaired. We know the legal limit of blood alcohol and there’s a page full of questions and answers at the DMV web page. Driving while impaired seems to be the outcome, whether it is by drugs or alcohol, but what is the equivalent of a Breathalyzer for marijuana?

There is a device called SensAbues developed in Sweden and it is believed capable of determining if the driver has smoked marijuana, or used cocaine or methamphetamine. The technology is available to ensure drivers are not driving while impaired, and I hope that gets put to use whether pot is legal or not.

There were several recurring themes I encountered while I was researching this topic:

1. We are spending $8.7 billion a year nationally in law-enforcement costs to arrest, prosecute and jail marijuana violations by about 750,000 individuals. Legalization would not only save a ton of money, it would free up a lot of time devoted by law enforcement and courts.

2. Legalization creates jobs for the “good guys” (store owners, clerks, accountants, farmers, et al) while removing income from the “bad guys” (criminals and drug dealers)

3. Taxation at a rate similar to tobacco and alcohol would result in revenue of approximately $8.7 billion according to this study The Budgetary Impact of Ending Drug Prohibition.

When people protest legalization, the arguments generally follow a line of logic that includes: “Marijuana is a gateway drug!”

There really are very few studies that prove that statement to be true.  A Yale Study does state that adolescents who use alcohol, tobacco and marijuana are more likely to use stronger drugs as adults, but considering that over 1.5 million teenagers are smoking pot, I think that train has already left the station. I also think teens using alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana already have an addictive personality and that must be addressed.

So, what do Potomac Local readers think? Is legalization a good idea or not?

(540) 242-8939

News
Call to Action: Volunteers Needed as ESOL & Citizenship teachers

Call to Action 

· Good morning . . . Happy New Year!  Many of us make New Year Resolutions – how about this one: Resolve to Volunteer in the New Year. I can’t think of a better way to meet like- minded people, make friends, and do good in your community. It is a win/win for everyone. There is a great deal of power when one unites with another to champion a cause. You can make a difference and here is a list to get you started:

· Literacy Volunteers of America-Prince William needs you to help an adult learn to read and write. The next Tutor Training Workshop is January 11, 2014 9am to 4pm and January 25, 2014, 9am to noon. There is a one-time fee of $35 for materials. Imagine the difference you can make in someone’s life! Contact at lvapw@aol.com.

· Keep Prince William Beautiful will conduct their quarterly litter survey as required for their membership in Keep America Beautiful on Wednesday, January 15 from 8:45am to 1:00pm. Surveys are conducted from a temperature controlled van and lunch is provided afterward. Volunteers will meet at 4939 Ridgewood Center Dr., Woodbridge, VA and will receive a brief training. Please email info@kpwb.org to sign-up and learn more!

· There will be a free tax preparation site for low income residents at the Ferlazzo Building from 10am to 1pm on Saturdays starting in late January and running until April 12 . . . but only if a Volunteer Site Coordinator can be found. Please contact Mary at Mary.Enure@fairfaxcounty.gov or James at James.Do@fairfaxcounty.gov if you can fill this need.

· Contact Coleen at RSVP chersson@volunteerprincewilliam.org if you can drive a cancer patient from Manassas Park to Gainesville for radiation treatments. The treatments are daily for the next 33 days at 10:15am and a ride home is needed as well. Please consider signing-up for a few days and Coleen will work her magic to get it all scheduled.

· BEACON Adult Literacy program is looking for ESL teachers for the adult students. No experience is needed because their training will give you all the skills needed to make a monumental impact on another person’s life. Classes are held both mornings and evenings, Monday through Friday. Please visit their website at: www.beaconliteracy.org for more info.

· The Prince William Area Agency on Aging – Woodbridge area needs a volunteer for the Adult Day Care Center in Woodbridge. You will answer phones, direct messages, receive participants and visitors, pick-up and drop off mail, make copies, etc. Hours are 10am to 6pm Monday through Friday. A yearly TB test is required (have initial chest x-ray if results exhibit a false positives, followed by yearly screening done by a medical person) Call Melodee for more details: 703-792-4583.

· The Prince William Area Agency on Aging – Manassas area needs a volunteer to be a friendly visitor for a male shut-in. He needs a cherry visitor who can help him read his mail. Contact Barbara at 703-792-7175.

· Catholic Charities has a couple of programs for the immigrant community. Volunteers are needed in both Manassas and Woodbridge as ESOL and Citizenship teachers. Training and all the materials are provided. This is a unique opportunity. Please call (571) 208-1572 for all the specifics.

· SERVE has an URGENT need for volunteer drivers for the Food Distribution Center on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Drivers take the SERVE vans to area grocery stores and restaurants to pick-up donated food and then return to SERVE for unloading and distribution. You must be at least 21 years old with a clean driving record. Contact Jan at jhawkins@nvfs.org

· First Home Alliance has a fun opportunity for volunteers to help them produce a video campaign on all their services to first time homebuyers and distressed homeowners. So if you have any knowledge of video productions please give them a call at (703) 580-8838 ext. 23 to learn more.

· The Brain Injury Services is looking for a special volunteer who is a graduate of Columbia University in New York to visit a gentleman in his 90’s who is also a graduate and taught at Columbia. This gentleman lives in Fairfax would love to chat a couple of times a month about New York, Columbia and politics. If you are this special volunteer please call Michelle at (703) 451-8881 ext. 232 to learn more.

· ACTS is entering their very busy season at their Thrift Store in Dumfries. Volunteers are needed Tuesday thru Saturday to greet donors and help them unload their car. This is a bustling place and promises to be fun for all the volunteers. Please visit their website at www.actspwc.org to complete your volunteer application form. This sounds like a great job for teens.

· ACTS Food pantry in Dumfries needs volunteer drivers on Saturday and Sunday mornings to pick-up food donations from area grocery stores. It’s a quick 3 hour shift from 9am-noon to give families needed food from extra supplies. Please call Robin at (703) 441-8606 ext. 213 to learn more.

· Last but certainly not least! Volunteer Prince William is hosting Volunteer Management Training series in January and February. Come hone your skills as a professional volunteer manager in this 6 week program. We will meet every Thursday beginning January 9th from 9am-11am in Dale City. Topics covered include: understanding volunteering, planning your program, recruiting and placing volunteers, training and orienting volunteers, supervising volunteers to maximize their experience and evaluating your program. This training program is free and promises to be worth your time and talent investment. Please visit our website to register: www.volunteerprincewilliam.org

· If you are looking for other opportunities, please don’t forget to call my wonderful team at Volunteer Prince William. Coleen can help you with the Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP) opportunities at (703) 369-5292 ext. 207, Shelley can help with any individual or group project and send you weekly updates if you’d like. Shelley is at (703) 369-5292 ext. 201, and Bonnie can help you with opportunities available in Disaster Preparedness at (703) 369-5292 ext. 202. Please visit our newly re-vamped website at www.volunteerprincewilliam.org. Thanks so much for all you do in our community.

News
Working Laptop Fails to get Creative Juices Flowing

The laptop is new to me. It was my husband’s, is a few years old, and no longer has enough memory to do what he needs to do. So he bought a new laptop, cleaned this one off, removed his password, and handed it over.

So exciting! I’ve been using my desktop for I don’t even know how many years. Seven? Eight? It’s a workhorse, this old Gateway, and hosts the WiFi router for the whole house as well as the printer. The desktop has stored away years of Christmas card letters, kids’ high school essays, and sports schedule emails … it’s an archive of my family’s history.

And it is slow. Painfully slow. It takes forever to turn on, generally freezes when turning off, and is impossible to use for anything online. I really only need Word and email, though, so it’s worked. My computing needs are not great.

But when my husband offered the laptop, visions of speed and freedom danced in my head. I could work from the comfort of the living room sofa with the TV on, or from the kitchen while I cook dinner! I could watch YouTube videos! I could – gasp – join the 21st century and be mobile! So, yes, please, I told him quickly, and waited impatiently for the day when it was ready to go.

I will be more effective with a laptop, I promised myself. I can research things without needing 30 minutes’ lead time to get the computer on and warmed up. I can write – my columns, and maybe more! I would certainly be more creative with a laptop, able to capture my thoughts and ideas more quickly. Speed and power! I drooled. Yes. My efficiency would soar!

So here it is, finally, my big portable computing moment. My husband leaves the laptop in its pouch on the dining room table and walks away. I approach it nervously, pretending I’m not. I don’t know a thing about setting up the laptop, but I do not want to ask for help. Surely I can figure this out. I know the general parts – power cord, mouse (because the built-in touch pad is quirky and sensitive), machine itself. I open the pouch and pull everything out, then lift open the laptop cover. I look hard at the black surface. There, on top. Isn’t that the power symbol on the small round button? Gingerly I press it, and a blue light! Yes!

OK, then! Confident now, I pick up the power cord. Of course I know the plug end, and into the wall it goes. The other end is round; I check the side of the laptop and, helpfully, there’s only one round hold. Another blue light! Success! As the laptop sings its opening chimes I try the end of the mouse cord in first one rectangular slot – nope – then the other. Yes, that one fits. I move the mouse experimentally, and voila! Cursor control!

Within minutes – and just a few, not the 30 or so I’m used to – the laptop is up and ready, its screen of familiar icons lit and waiting. Ha! I’m going to work right now! In the early evening, in the dining room, while dinner is cooking. I’m going to write, here, capturing the energy and creative juices as they flow, rather than trying to summon them at a prescribed time upstairs in the cold and silent office. I can write, and as needed I can just get up and stir the pasta and come back, and get up and let the dogs out and come back, and get up and check the chicken and come back. Easy.

I am thrilled. Yes, I will do more! I will be faster! I will be more creative! This is fantastic!

So – click – I open Word. I create a blank page. I wait for the words to come. I get up and stir and check the chicken. I come back, and sit and wait for words. I get up and let the dogs out, and back in. I sit back down, and prepare to write. I sit and sit, and no words come.

Hmm. Well, maybe I should get to know this laptop better. What other programs are here? I move the mouse to the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. I click on the Windows logo. I scan, and … oh! Games! I shouldn’t, but … look how many! Chess, and Spider Solitaire, and hey! Mahjong Titans! I click and … ohhh. Such a fancy mahjong screen! Eight layout choices, music … well, just for a minute, right, to get the creative juices flowing?

Twenty minutes of Mahjong Titans later, it is clear: the laptop has enriched my life indeed.

News
Alborn: Fly Fishing Group Meets at Quantico, Gives Vets a Chance to Heal

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I am a fly fisherman.

I have been wandering around the Appalachian backcountry for years in search of native Brook Trout in the crystal clear headwaters of mountain streams. It’s a solitary journey that I take to recover from 22 years as a career soldier and another 15 in technology business.

I find that nature and solitude heal the scars that have accumulated on my soul.

That’s why I was intrigued when I started hearing about a project set up by fly fisherman to help fellow Veterans with a few scars on their bodies and minds heal. It’s called Project Healing Waters.

Given the name of the project, I intuitively understood.

There are several programs in the Washington, D.C. area; however, Duber Winters, the Manager of “my” Orvis Store, and Beau Beasley, a fellow outdoor writer, kept point me to the Quantico Program.

I grabbed my camera and headed out on a snowy winter Tuesday night to see what was going on. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I understood that the program was designed to help injured military service personnel and disabled veterans.

Was this going to be “touchy feely” stuff or a bunch of guys telling “war stories?” Maybe it would feel like hanging out at the VFW?

It was none of those things.What I found was a bunch of fly fisherman… doing what fly fisherman do when they aren’t. fishing… talking about fly fishing… and tying flies.

Tonight, they were here to learn how to tie the Original Clouser Deep Minnow.

A few were in uniform, most not. Uniform Blouses were stacked on the sidelines. Rank didn’t matter in this room.

There were a few young active-duty Marines, a few retired service members, some middle age guys, and some fellow “more experienced” (a polite way to say senior citizens) fly fisherman (like me). All were sitting around a table littered with feathers, hooks, thread, and fly tying vices. It was a mixed group of men and women who had all come together for one reason.

I slowly began to understand. These folks. all of them, active duty — veterans — civilian volunteers: all came together for the same reason I head into the woods with my fly rod for a chance to concentrate on something other than the scars on their bodies and souls — for a chance to learn to tie one more fly that they can use on some river or stream, or to seek the therapeutic benefits of being one with nature.

This program wasn’t just about the young Marines — this was about Veterans of all ages, and perhaps those who served in other ways — to forget for a while, and just think about fishing.

Many of us who fly fish long ago came to the realization that our venture into new waters with a rod and a few flies often has little to do with actually catching fish.

These guys have a lot of sponsors big and small. Some folks provide money, others materials, others sweat equity.

Folks like Jim Bensinger, owner of Fiber Flies, was there as a volunteer and materials donor. His son, James (an active duty Marine) was at the table working on a fly.

There will always be a shortage of the money and resources to grow this program to the size necessary to support the veterans returning from today’s wars, and those long forgotten wars from the past. You read the same news I do. Government money just won’t be enough in the future.

There are many good programs out there, but one size doesn’t fit all. Some are better than others. This is one of the good ones. I checked them out (as in “pulled their IRS 990), and noted that they are a well managed, volunteer organization that puts of its money into programs to support veterans.

I write my checks to not-for-profit groups in December. I plan to add Project Healing Waters to my list. You may find many ways to donate here. If you have a special program in your State or community you would like to support, just add its name to the donation.

My donation will go to Project Healing Waters – Quantico. The journey is the reward.

Al Alborn is a Prince William County resident and author of The Virginia Trout Bum.

News
Kiser: Hope for Fewer I-95 Express Lanes Work Delays in 2014

Opinion

It’s been a brutal year on Interstate 95 in Northern Virginia. Yes, more so than in years past, the delays seemed to rack up on the highway that bridges the gap not only Prince William and Stafford counties but to many jobs many of us commute to in Arlington and Washington, D.C.

For nearly all of us, the highway and its delays are something we’ve become very familiar with.

The Virginia Department of Transportation told us congestion on I-95 would get worse this year, especially during the summer of 2013 when work on the 95 Express Lanes would kick into high gear.

Now in winter and heading into 2014, we can see pavement that has been laid on the new lanes that, when the open in early 2015, will bring an extension of the HOV lanes from Dumfries to Va. 610 in North Stafford. The entire facility will between North Stafford and Esdall Road in Alexandria, and will allow single drivers to pay an electronic toll to use the lanes or occupants in vehicles of three or more to ride free.

And, while that all sounds well and good, it will be even better when the lanes finally open and work-related delays for the Express Lanes project a thing of the past. Even during the holidays, I-95 in our area has been plagued by delays morning, midday, and night as work zones are set up, closing lanes and backing up miles of traffic, in some cases.

So, as we say goodbye to 2013 and welcome 2014 give yourself a pat on the back for putting up with what has been horrendous traffic congestion. And, join me in looking forward to the project’s completion and the opening of the new lanes. Let’s hope they help to improve the awful delays that keep us away from home, family, and life’s activities by giving us another option to get where going just a bit faster.

News
Moser: As 2013 Leaves, Here’s to Hoping Cancer Doesn’t Return

Opinion 

Have you ever said, “Whew! I’m glad this year is over?” I think that phrase has been uttered by most adults at one time or another. After a string of bad luck, medical crisis or financial meltdown, maybe you were relieved when that hateful year ended. Perhaps you lost a friend or a family member or maybe one of your parents died and you consider that whole year as a devastating loss in your own “Book of Life.”

I imagine you have also experienced wonderful years, filled with promotions and great grades, maybe a wedding or the birth of a new baby. That’s when you look forward to another year and hopes of more of the same grand events.

There are probably some years (more likely if you are middle age or past) that are not really memorable at all. Nothing spectacular occurred to fix that year in your mind good or bad enough to designate a year described as “good” or “bad”.

I have had cancer twice, but both times the treatment was excision, so was spared the more horrible treatment methods used to combat the disease.

One thing cancer breeds is the dread the disease will return. We survivors are continually beset by the knowledge we were lucky once or twice, but maybe three times is too many.

When my mammogram came back last month with “inconclusive results,” I was asked to reschedule for another look. That mammogram showed a “shadow” and the lab requested I return yet again for a sonogram.

As I sat in the cubicle, waiting for results, I remembered being in that dressing room before. There are many curtained “closets” for women to change from their street clothes to a gown, then wait for a technician to bring them the news. I recall hearing women sobbing and the out of control sensation that your entire life is suddenly in the hands of some unknown, unseen force.

After an interminable wait, I had the sonogram and the technician was able to see the “shadow”. It is a cyst, not a tumor and my relief was nearly embarrassing. I hugged this woman, whom I’d only just met and thanked her for her effort.

She was nearly in tears, too, as she said, “Last month, I told my husband I was thinking I should retire. I began this position as an x-ray technician and migrated to sonogram when they were first put to use in cancer detection. In November, nearly every procedure I administered showed cancer. I got into this field because I wanted to help, but I seldom have any good news to report.”

 I went back, got dressed and as I stepped out, I was eager to get the heck out of there, but there was a young woman, seated in the “holding pen” quietly weeping. I sat down to ask her and she told me “I’ve had cancer once….”

Please take a few minutes to watch this video. I shared it with a friend who faced his own struggle with cancer, but it applies to all of us.

News
Moser: Excessive Government Waste, Spending Makes ‘Me Very Testy’

Last week I wrote a post entitled: Home Values Rebounding, Prince William Needs Housing Solutions. Someone left me a thoughtful comment that included this phrase:

“Those of us in older neighborhoods who were comfortable and safe in our homes for decades and paid mortgage on time had nothing whatsoever to do with the bad mortgage/foreclosure, etc. mess yet our home values have suffered greatly because of the actions of others.”

I am typically ready to share responsibility for our plight with everyone, whether it is government, business or residents. I must say, though, that comment resonated with me, in fact the whole post sounded like the kind of rumble in the back of my head that I hear on a regular basis!

I (and the person who wrote that comment) paid my bills. I made my payments and I went without vacations and I SACRIFICED to pay off all our debts! My husband and I worked long hours and we continue to work for our neighborhood and our community.

It is not my fault there were unscrupulous lenders, nor is it my fault people bought houses they couldn’t afford. It is not my fault that banks won’t keep up their vacant properties and it is not my fault that a large portion of Prince William County residents and a few of our elected officials don’t seem to recognize the plight of people like me and the person who wrote that post.

It is definitely not my fault that sequestration occurred and it certainly isn’t my fault that my husband is still unemployed. Since I’m all riled up now, though, I’m going to blame somebody!

In October, I read a devastating article in the Washington Post about leaving $7 billion worth of equipment behind as we withdraw troops from Afghanistan. (We’re not just leaving it behind, it’s being reduced to scrap!) On Monday, I read another Washington Post article about the Air Force wasting $600 million by retiring a small fleet of planes only six years old and mothballing five more planes that haven’t even been produced yet! Why? The Air Force and the National Guard are having some kind of power skirmish.

Then I read about Senator Coburns’ “Wastebook” where he outlines $30 billion that the government could have saved!

I watched the school board allocate funding for a school that will total in excess of 110 million dollars and require debt service for many years, knowing, the overcrowded classrooms, and low teacher pay will continue.

So let me see if I can explain this in a way that everyone understands. People like me, who have been careful and cautious and thrifty all our lives are now in pretty dire straits. The home that we spent money to purchase, money to remodel and money to preserve is going to contribute very little to our retirement. (Thanks to those low housing values I shared with you last week.)

We didn’t save enough when we were younger because we were busy paying off our bills and our home. We were being responsible.  Now, in the last working years of my husband’s career, when we should be saving nearly every bit of income…there is no income.

So all this waste is making me very testy. I’m having a hard time thinking in terms of sharing the wealth when others are wasting it…and it’s not my fault!

News
Charitable Donations Replace Christmas Gifts for Adults

Mom on the Run: The Next Chapter

I stand back and look at the tree. My daughter came home unexpectedly for the weekend, so my husband and I took advantage of having a kid present and decorated the house for Christmas. She is in her senior year of college and our son is in his freshman year, and with no other kids at home, my husband and I are having to figure out new processes, new expectations for just about every aspect of life. We’ve got the day-to-day stuff down, but holidays are fresh new ground.

Putting up the tree ourselves didn’t seem right, but setting up during their Thanksgiving visit seemed early, and waiting until they show up a few days before Christmas seemed late. It was convenient that our daughter popped home when she did, two weeks before the big day. My husband hauled up the boxes, and in an hour the deed was done: tree, stockings, wreaths, flags, little Santas and angels sprinkled here and there throughout the downstairs.

Last was the presents, and that’s what I’ve just finished doing. I had wrapped the gifts already, and once the tree was up it took just a minute to transfer them all over.

All of them.

I stand and look for a minute at the tree. This seems … sparse.

“Is that it?” my husband asks, standing next to me and looking.

“Yep,” I say, nodding, arms crossed. “That’s it.”

Beneath the tree: one large-ish box containing the expensive boots our ROTC-obsessed son requested for Christmas. One large-ish box with the camouflage pattern camelback wearable water bottle for my son, from my parents, which my dad had delivered to our house. One small box containing a shirt for our nephew. And one very small box holding a beautiful sparkly bracelet that I picked up for myself for a crazy low price on Black Friday.

“Well, I have two boxes to add for you,” I tell my husband. “They haven’t come in yet.”

“And I’ll have one for you,” he adds.

We stand together, looking at the tree, nodding at this sobering news.

“Do we have anybody else to buy for?” he asks.

“Nope,” I tell him. This year, for the first time ever, we have finally, finally done away with adult gifts for my family. Instead, we are giving charitable donations: “I’ll write up some cards for my parents and sisters, saying what donations we made in their names.” I’m having iTunes gift cards emailed directly to my sister-in-law for our nephew and niece. “We do need to find something for your mom and dad,” I say. He nods … but we both know those will be small, token-type gifts.

But our kids … just last week we gave our daughter cash for a down payment on a car as her Christmas gift. Aside from the boots, we’ll probably give our son some money.

And that’s it! For the first time in 22 years there are no babysitters, no teachers, no coaches for whom to buy gifts. No kids’ friends or even kids’ friends’ parents – other moms and dads who sit on bleachers and serve as back-up cheerleaders and EMTs and couriers – expecting little gifts or cards or homemade cookies.

So beneath our tree is lonely. The years of mountains of brightly wrapped gifts are over. The big toy gifts evolved to small electronics gifts, and those evolved to checks and deposits and down payments on cars. Things too big to fit under the tree.

Until … yeah, I decide, turning firmly away from the tree. I’m going shopping.

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