Author: East Texas Review

Stressed out? You might need to sleep

Feeling irritable lately? You might need more sleep. Snapping at your kids or spouse, stewing in checkout lines, shouting at road hogs . . . cultural negativity abounds. A recent National Sleep Foundation (NSF) poll suggests links between sleep deficiencies and negative attitudes and behavior. Over one-third of respondents said they are sleepy during daytime at least a few days monthly. Those who slept under six hours on weeknights reported tiredness, stress and sadness more than eight-hour sleepers did. In general, sleepy people reported more dissatisfaction and anger while better sleepers said they were “full of energy,” “relaxed” and “happy.” The NSF detects what may be a possible trend toward declining sleep and claims that as many as 47 million sleepy adults may be at risk for injury, health problems, even overeating. NSF Executive Director Richard L. Gelula notes that, “Some of the problems we face as a society — from road rage to obesity — may be linked to lack of sleep or poor sleep.” I’ll bet that’s why just recently, two inconsiderate drivers blew their horns at me in sticky traffic situations. At least I thought they were inconsiderate. In retrospect, I probably could have been more careful. Their angry horns brought feelings of surprise, shock, tension and a bit of anger. Perhaps we all needed more sleep. Fatigue can hamper coping and make life seem gloomy....

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Reagan and Trump: American Nationalists

Since World War II, the two men who have most terrified this city by winning the presidency are Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. And they have much in common. Both came out of the popular culture, Reagan out of Hollywood, Trump out of a successful reality TV show. Both possessed the gifts of showmen — extraordinarily valuable political assets in a television age that deals cruelly with the uncharismatic. Both became instruments of insurgencies out to overthrow the establishment of the party whose nomination they were seeking. Reagan emerged as the champion of the postwar conservatism that had captured...

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Write and Wish Him Well

WALLACE: My boyfriend joined the Navy seven months ago. He is stationed in San Diego, California. We agreed that we would write to each other weekly and I have done that faithfully. My concern is that I no longer have any strong feelings for him. In fact, if he were to come home on leave, I wouldn’t really want to go out with him again. I feel that I should write and tell him how my feelings have changed, but writing a “Dear John” letter to a guy in the military does not seem like a very patriotic thing to do. I need your help. — Ellie, Mesa, Ariz. ELLIE: Patriotism has nothing to do with this. However, you do owe him the truth, so he knows how things are, and he can be free to date others. To give him false hope would be cruel. Write the letter today and wish him...

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‘Tis the Season: Tips for Finding a Trustworthy Tax Preparer

Brace yourselves. It’s tax season. If you’re an early bird, the IRS will begin accepting tax returns on January 23. If you tend to file a little later, however, you also have a few extra days, as the tax deadline this year is on April 18. BBB receives thousands of complaints against tax preparers every year. Common complaints state that the tax preparer made errors in their return which resulted in fines and fees. Other complaints allege customer service, billing and contract issues. BBB reminds consumers to be selective when hiring someone to prepare your return. “Preparing your tax return is not only complex and confusing”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB serving Central East Texas “It can also be loaded with pitfalls if you hire someone who isn’t qualified to prepare them for you.” BBB offers the following advice when searching for a tax preparer: Ask Around. Get referrals from friends and family on who they use and check BBB profiles on local tax preparers and tax preparation services.  Make sure to search for a tax preparer who is an expert in the type of service that is needed. Don’t Fall for the Promise of Big Refunds. Be wary of any tax preparation service that promises larger refunds than the competition, and steer clear of tax preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the refund.  Request...

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Certificates of Obligation: Funding Tool for Local Projects

Local governments normally must seek voters’ approval before taking on new bond debt for the construction of public works such as hospitals, schools and water infrastructure. One common form of borrowing, however, represents an exception to this rule: certificates of obligation (COs), which some local governments can use to fund projects without voter approval. The use of COs is becoming increasingly common in Texas. Between fiscal 2006 and fiscal 2015, outstanding CO debt issued by local governments rose by nearly 85 percent, substantially faster than the 50 percent growth rate for total debt held by these entities. In the latest issue of Fiscal Notes, the Comptroller’s office examines these useful but sometimes controversial instruments, which are available to Texas cities, counties and health or hospital districts. “Certificates of obligation allow governments to move quickly on projects when they need to, but concerns about the way in which they circumvent voter approval recently led the Legislature to put important limitations on their use,” Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said. In this issue, the Comptroller’s office also looks at the fiscal noting process, which adds up the potential costs, savings and revenue gains or losses that may result from new legislation. Published monthly, Fiscal Notes is online and also can be received by subscribing via the Comptroller’s website. Fiscal Notes is an extension of the Comptroller’s constitutional responsibilities to monitor the state’s...

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