It was outdoor movie night on Snow Island, and the city was screening the premiere of The Distracted Santa Claus, a new animated film by a world-renowned local director. Families unfolded their camp chairs and gathered around heated lamps that were set up on the soccer field to keep everybody warm. With their chairs lined up, twins Orion and Capella wrapped themselves in the large blankets handed to them by their parents.
“Dad, can we please have some popcorn?” the little girl asked.
“And some hot chocolate?” her brother added.
“Good idea, kids. I’ll go get us some. Do you want anything, Audrey?” Patrick asked, turning to his wife.
“A coffee, please.”
“Hurry up, Dad, or you’ll miss the beginning,” Orion called out as his father headed toward the concession stand.
There was no need to worry, though. Patrick returned with their snacks long before the movie started. In fact, the screen still hadn’t turned on by the time the kids finished their popcorn.
“I wonder what’s taking so long,” Audrey said.
“Yes, this is odd,” Patrick said. “And people are starting to get impatient.”
“We could go see the technician and find out what’s going on,” Capella suggested.
“Yes, his hut is nearby,” Orion added. “I can see it from here.”
“Alright, but go straight there and don’t take any detours on the way back,” their mother instructed.
When they arrived at the hut, the two children knocked on the door, but there was no answer. Since the door was unlocked, they opened it. To their surprise, they saw David, the technician, snoring away in his chair instead of operating the projector.
The twins called out his name and shook him, first gently then more vigorously, but nothing worked. David was still asleep.
“He’s so tired that it’s impossible to wake him up,” Capella exclaimed. “But how else can we get the movie started?”
“Follow me,” her brother replied.
With his sister right on his heels, Orion headed toward the nearest family. He quickly explained that the technician was sound asleep in his chair.
“Poor David,” said the mother with a sigh. “I don’t know how he gets any rest taking care of four children under the age of 10 all by himself.”
“I’m pretty good with electronics,” chi¬med in the girl beside her. “Go back to your seats, I’ll take care of everything.”
“Thank you,” the twins replied in unison.
As the crowd began to grumble more and more, Orion and Capella returned to their seats and recounted the story to their parents.
“Let’s hope this teenager knows what she’s doing,” Patrick said.
At that moment, the screen finally lit up and the opening credits appeared. The audience burst into thunderous applause.
“It looks like it,” Capella enthused.
“Well done, kids,» Audrey said.
The much-anticipated film, both funny and heartwarming, was a hit. Thanks to the twins and their invaluable ally, the outdoor movie night was a success — despite a bit of a sleepy start!
As for David, who woke up just in time to see the final scene, he went home feeling more rested than he had in years.
By Johannie Dufour and Sarah Beauregard
Translated by Katya Teague
National Day of Remembrance for Homicide Victims – Sept. 25, 2022
RICHMOND, Va. – As families, friends, and law enforcement gather this Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, for the National Day of Remembrance for Homicide Victims, many are hopeful that Virginia’s new Cold Case website will help renew the public’s attention to those cases that remain unsolved. The website, which is available to the public, is a searchable database that features information, photographs, and contact information for unsolved homicides, unidentified persons, and missing person cases that have remained unsolved for at least five years.
The Virginia State Police is required by the Code of Virginia 52-34.16 to host the website for Virginia local and state law enforcement agency participation. Virginia Delegate Danica Roem sponsored the legislation to create the searchable, online database that became law in 2020. The website was initially piloted in June 2022 with a limited number of Virginia State Police “cold cases” featured. Since then, the website has expanded to include 44 unsolved homicides, nine missing persons, and seven unidentified persons with 12 reporting agencies. To date, state police have trained and provided access to upload cases to the website to 19 local police and sheriff’s offices across the Commonwealth.
“There really is no such thing as a ‘cold’ case,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “That moniker is misleading because no matter how many years have passed that a homicide, missing person investigation, or unidentified person case has gone unresolved, it never truly goes ‘cold.’ Virginia law enforcement agencies continue to pursue unresolved investigations until justice is rendered for the victim and that victim’s family. Unfortunately, some cases simply take longer than others to achieve that end goal of an arrest and closure.”
“Working with state and local police, we have developed a cold case database that is now live here in Virginia to bring justice for those who have been killed, gone missing, or are unidentified,” said Delegate Danica A. Roem, 13th District of the Virginia House of Delegates. “I would implore the public to look at the cold case database at least once to see if you recognize any case on this list. You can visit it at https://coldcase.vsp.virginia.gov/.”
“This website gives every unsolved case worldwide reach, and we are hopeful that it will generate new tips and quality leads for Virginia’s law enforcement agencies to pursue,” said Settle.
10 activities to enjoy the fall colors
The cool fall weather brings out a brilliant display of brightly colored leaves. Here are ten activities to make the most of this short-lived season.
1. Hiking. Take a walk in the forest or climb a mountain to observe nature in all its splendor.
2. Biking. Ride along bike paths in enchanting locations and admire the majestic multicolored trees as they pass by.
3. Kayaking. Waterways are often lined with trees and offer unique views of the beauty of autumn.
4. Picnic. Enjoy the season’s warm colors with a delicious meal in the open air.
5. Camping. Deep in the woods, the beauty of the rising or setting sun will make your environment shine.
6. Aerial trekking. Observe beautiful red, orange, and yellow leaves up close by climbing or ziplining through the trees.
7. Spa. Unwind in an outdoor bath and take in the breathtaking scenery. Rejuvenation guaranteed!
8. Driving. Enjoy a leisurely drive along picturesque country roads, or take a drive to the peaks.
9. Flying in a plane or helicopter. Discover fall like never before from high in the air.
10. Via Ferrata or rock climbing. Contemplate the glorious fall panoramas as you dangle from a rock face at dizzying heights.
Autumn is calling!
The first day of autumn is September 22
Autumn is an invisible bridge that begins with the fading delights of summer and slowly reaches into the world of winter.
It’s when most crops are harvested and when the days grow shorter and cooler, especially in northern latitudes. September is the month of the Harvest Moon, a full moon that allows farmers to work later and have more time to bring in their crops. Gardens are ripped up, but rows of turnips, potatoes, and onions are planted.
Children have strapped on their backpacks and trekked back to school but take time out to select pumpkins, carve their Jack-o’-lanterns and throw themselves into the adventure of Halloween.
This is when tourists hit the road to find, photograph, and enjoy the color palette of fall foliage. These wanderers are often referred to as “leaf peepers.”
Apple trees are heavy with fruit, apple cider stands begin to pop up, and apple pie is a staple on many menus. Family outings to the nearest orchard are common, and kids can pick their own apples and even watch apple cider being made. Getting a taste of the fresh cider is part of the fun.
Tailgate parties hail the arrival of football season. Bonfires proliferate, with some of them turning into traditional hot dog roasts, complete with toasting marshmallows to make s’mores and augmented by a singalong.
Corn mazes offer a scary but exciting escapade, and hayrides are enjoyed by all ages. Scarecrows and cornstalks become part of decorating while squirrels scurry around burying nuts.
It’s autumn. Breathe deeply and enjoy the precious days. As Albert Camus said, “Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.”
4 farm safety tips
Celebrated from September 18 to 24, 2022, National Farm Safety and Health Week is an annual occasion that focuses on promoting health and safety on farms. If you live or work on a farm, you share the responsibility of keeping yourself and others safe. In honor of this event, here are four things you can do to ensure neither you nor anyone you’re working with is involved in a farming accident.
1. Keep your warning signals functioning
Ensure the warning lights and sounds on the machine you’re using are functioning and that the labeling is clear and visible. These signals provide essential warnings to their operators and those around them.
2. Be careful around power take-off (PTO) shafts
PTO shafts transfer power from a tractor to an attached implement. Although extremely useful, PTOs can be dangerous. Therefore, make sure to keep loose clothing and items away from the shaft and never reach or step over one while in operation.
3. Invest in rollover protection
If you don’t already have one, consider investing in a rollover protective structure (ROPS) for your tractor. Every year, farmers are injured or killed in tractor rollovers.
4. Get plenty of sleep
If you’re tired, you’re more likely to make mistakes that could cost you or someone you’re working with a limb or their life. Get the sleep you need and quit working if you’re too tired to continue safely.
Safety and health are the responsibility of everyone working on a farm.
5 car noises you should never ignore
Visual checks are an essential part of vehicle care and maintenance. However, you should also use your ears. Strange noises are clues about potential issues with your car. Here are five noises you shouldn’t ignore.
1. Squeaking or grinding. If you hear a grinding or squeaking noise every time you stop, your car’s brake pads, shoes, or rotors may be worn out. If left unchecked, these issues can be hazardous.
2. Hissing. Your engine could be over¬heating if you hear a hissing sound coming from under the hood. This sound could also mean the exhaust system is plugged.
3. Chirping. A high-pitched chirping sound could indicate that you need to adjust or replace the engine’s timing or serpentine belt.
4. Rattling. If your steering wheel is rattling or your tires are shaking, it’s time to act. It may mean you’ve lost a lug nut, or your power steering fluid is low.
5. Rumbling. A loud rumbling noise while accelerating often indicates a hole in your muffler or exhaust system. This is dangerous because toxic fumes can leak into the cabin.
See a professional automotive technician if you hear strange noises coming from your car. Failing to act quickly could result in more costly repairs down the road.
Demand for truckers is on the rise
This year, National Truck Driver Appreciation Week takes place from September 11 to 17, 2022. This event is an opportunity to celebrate truckers and their integral role in delivering goods safely, securely, and on time.
However, demand for truckers has skyrocketed in the past few years, leading to a shortage of qualified personnel. The American Trucking Association (ATA), which represents the trucking industry, estimates that the industry is short 80,000 drivers. That shortage is expected to grow to 160,000 by 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to this shortfall as many older drivers chose early retirement, and training offered by driving schools was disrupted.
The good news is that the United States government is taking several measures to address these challenges. Initiatives are underway to improve working conditions, and innovative workforce programs are being developed to recruit, train, and retain drivers. Efforts are underway to recruit from underrepresented communities like women, the formerly incarcerated, and service-disabled veterans.
Are you cut out for a career in trucking?
If you want to explore a career as a trucker, you must be sharp-minded and thrive under stressful mental and physical conditions.
The trucking industry is known for its welcoming atmosphere. What’s more, pay has been increasing along with other benefits, making commercial drivers some of the best-paid individuals outside the office.
Trucking is definitely a career to consider if you’re adventurous, hardworking, and always up for a challenge.