It’s August, traditionally the dog days (an astronomical reference to the rising of Sirius, the dog star, during the hottest time of the year) when usual routines shut down and folks grab a respite in the last long days of summer before school and work resume in earnest. Even the news often trails off during August. Not this year.
Trying to maneuver through news reports, even from legitimate sources, feels like so much tabloid fodder. A worker slips airport security to hijack, and crash, an empty passenger plane; Omarosa gets an additional 15 minutes (or more) of fame with new revelations about working in the White House; Paul Manafort spends a lot of money on ostrich leather jackets; Unite the Right manages to attract only two dozen hate mongers; and presidential tweets and slurs don’t just multiply, they quadruple! One journalist likened recent news to a dumpster fire. Maybe it’s more like a train wreck – a horrifying scene, but one that draws your complete attention.
When I was in college, I had to read “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” an absurdist play, written in 1921 by Luigi Pirandello. It’s a play within a play, with new characters wandering in and out of the scenes, seemingly with little to connect them. By the end, the relationships are explained, but critics rightfully called the play a “madhouse,” for its illogical progression. The characters in today’s news wander in and out of the headlines, sometimes connected, sometimes not. Rather than a fictional play, however, the news items are real, and that’s downright scary! One can hope that, when 2018’s dog days of August have passed, life will return to its normal routine, although with the current administration, nothing seems normal, or routine, anymore.
One thing that is normal, in Fairfax County, is the requirement to slow down in school zones, and stop for school buses when their lights are flashing red and the extended STOP sign on the bus is activated. Fairfax County Public Schools resume classes a week from next Tuesday, on Aug. 28, and police will ticket drivers who fail to slow to 25 mph in school zones. The fine for passing a stopped school bus loading or unloading children can be as high as $2,500, a possible charge of reckless driving, and up to six points on your license. Those flashing red lights on the front and back of the bus mean STOP, and that’s for traffic going both ways, unless the road is divided by a physical median.
Another local good news item: last week, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department (FRD) received its very first accreditation by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI). Accreditation is an ongoing self-improvement process that insures an agency remains relevant within public safety best practices. Fairfax County FRD is one of only three agencies worldwide, serving a population greater than one million, that is accredited by CFAI, ISO Class 1. Congratulations to all our brave Fire and Rescue personnel for a job well done!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.