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Yes, fall is here and Mr. Autumn Man is again walking down the street with a cup of coffee, wearing his signature sweater over a plaid collared shirt.

Last month we found that after an especially warm and stormy summer more than two-thirds of poll respondents were “suffering summer fatigue” and ready for the start of fall. A few years ago we also established the kinds of autumnal things that readers most look forward to: the leaves changing color, fall festivals, playoff baseball and going to pumpkin patches and orchards.

Today, however, we’re asking about the things you’re not looking forward to as the season changes.

For one, it’s getting darker by the day.

Then there’s the colder weather, which will soon enough necessitate jackets, gloves and hats. And that’s not to mention leaf blower noise and leaf raking duties for those with yards.

Of those three things, which are you least looking forward to?

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Arlington County officially has a new logo.

The Arlington County Board voted unanimously at its Saturday meeting to approve the logo favored by county staff, concluding a nearly nine-month-long process to replace the previous logo, which depicted Arlington House, the former home of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

More from a county press release:

In an effort to find a new symbol that represents Arlington’s values and assets as a community, the County Board voted 5-0 to adopt a new logo. The final choice, which represents Arlington’s close relationship with DC and Alexandria and echoes how Arlington was formed from the original Capital borders, comes after a months-long community engagement process in which residents were encouraged to submit ideas and then submit their preferences on top options that aligned with the County’s guidelines. More than 16,000 Arlingtonians shared their top choices in the most recent round of public engagement. 

Last year, the County Board approved a process to replace the County logo and seal, which depicted Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial. For many residents, the home of the Confederate general is a painful representation of the slavery that took place in our region. Community members submitted hundreds of ideas for Arlington County’s new logo during two rounds of submissions earlier this year, which was then evaluated by a Logo Review Panel and further enhanced by a professional design firm to find images that best depicted the unique assets and values of the County and presented for public input.

More than 400 logo designs were submitted by members of the public, the county said.

The new logo appears to be a variation on a more minimalist design submitted by a National Geographic documentary producer.

Putting aside whether you would have preferred the original design — or the previous county logo — to the modified design that ultimately was selected to adorn everything from county flags to vehicles to stationery, what do you think of the new logo?

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Transit planners have come up with four different ways that they say could solve congestion at the Rosslyn Metro Station while planning for future ridership needs.

Unfortunately, a Metrorail line through Columbia Pike — supported by nearly 70% of ARLnow poll respondents — did not make the cut. But each of the potential future projects does start with changes that some Arlingtonians could see as benefits: a second Metro station in Rosslyn and a first-ever Georgetown stop.

After linking Rosslyn to Georgetown, all four expanded lines would run parallel to and to the north of existing east-west trains, connecting Arlington to West End, the southern halves of Dupont Circle and Logan Circle, and stopping at Union Station. From there, they veer north toward Greenbelt and New Carrollton, Maryland or south to National Harbor.

Two options stand out from the pack. First, a Silver Line express tunnel in Virginia starting at West Falls Church station, and stopping at a possible second Ballston station en route to a second Rosslyn station. Another intriguing possibility is a Blue Line loop to National Harbor, which would add some new direct transit connectivity to Arlington’s Crystal City-Pentagon City corridor.

WMATA says these two would have the second-greatest and greatest gains in new ridership and annual fare revenue, respectively.

While these changes could improve commutes, the projects are decades down the road, if they happen at all. Each of the two options above could take up to 25 years to fund (needing $20-25 billion), construct and complete.

Suspending for a moment how far away these new Metro projects could be, what do you think of WMATA’s proposed changes to connectivity in Arlington and just over the river?

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In our area it seems like every September there’s a stretch of perfect late-summer or early-fall weather, with sunny skies and comfortable temperatures.

And it appears we have just entered such a stretch.

The ten-day forecast currently includes no rain, and a range of high temperatures between 75-84 degrees. Granted, such stretches are often too fleeting, but — it sure is nice while it lasts.

Today’s kickoff of the D.C. area’s Nice September Stretch follows an extended period of awful weather. Deluges of rain, storms that knock out power, and borderline unbearable combinations of heat and humidity in between. It felt like it was never going to end.

With our weather dreams coming true, albeit temporarily, we were wondering just how excited locals were about it. Beyond extended stretches of nice weather being a bit… well, boring… there’s also a thought given to the need to water plants, wash the car, etc. if it stays dry for too long.

And, just how much do locals care about the weather after all? If we really prioritized warm temperatures and sunny skies to go along with the expensive real estate, wouldn’t more of us be packing up and moving to Southern California?

Given the national picture — destruction caused by Hurricane Ida and deadly floods and devastating wildfires — we should be counting our weather blessings. This is not to minimize the suffering of those recently affected by severe weather, which top scientists say is being made worse by climate change.

But sticking to our local reality here in Arlington, this morning we’re wondering just how jazzed everyone is for our run of September weather perfection.

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Arlington might not be as hard-hit as places with lower vaccination rates, but the delta variant of the coronavirus is still infecting dozens of people a day in the county.

The latest data from the Virginia Dept. of Health shows the seven-day trailing average of new infections in Arlington ticking up from 32 to 36 cases per day since Tuesday.

With elevated infection rates but relatively low hospitalization rates in Arlington, we’re wondering whether locals have started taking more precautions over the past month or so.

Have you been more diligent about masking up, social distancing, or avoiding crowds since cases started rising two months ago? Or have you gone about your daily life much as before, putting trust in the vaccine and its ability to protect against infections or against serious illness in the event of breakthrough cases?

Let’s find out where the community currently stands.

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Another week, another stretch of temperatures in the 90s and heat indexes near 100.

It’s been a hot and humid summer in Arlington and the D.C. area. With a predicted high of 93, today will likely be the 41st day with the temperature over 90 (the yearly average is 40).

Yet, the outward signs of fall are there: Oktoberfest beers at the grocery store, football on the television, the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte today at Starbucks.

(For what it’s worth, the “PSL” arrived a day earlier than last year and a full week earlier than four years ago.)

https://twitter.com/Starbucks/status/1430152993278627844

ARLnow readers have told us they consider the fall equinox in the latter half of September to be the “real start of fall” in Arlington, as opposed to Labor Day, the first day of September, or the debut of the sweet pumpkin-y goodness at Starbucks. But with a premium put on outdoor activity during the pandemic, maybe this year locals are mentally prepared for an earlier start of fall.

Given the sweltering temperatures, cicadas, itch mites and heavy rains, are you suffering summer fatigue? Would you trade the remaining four weeks of summer for a changeover to cooler and crisper weather? Let’s find out.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Artist’s rendering of a gondola over the Potomac (image via Georgetown BID)

It’s the subject of humor, t-shirts and desire.

Now there’s some actual, tangible progress that can advance the much-discussed idea for a Rosslyn-Georgetown gondola.

The Washington Business Journal’s Alex Koma reported yesterday afternoon that D.C. is acquiring the Exxon station in Georgetown that could serve as the gondola’s eastern terminus.

The D.C. Council included $10 million for the purchase in the 2022 budget it passed earlier this month, teeing up a deal for the property at 3607 M St. NW once the spending plan receives sign-offs from both Mayor Muriel Bowser and Congress.

The half-acre site, by the famous “Exorcist” steps, currently belongs to a joint venture of Altus Realty Partners and DYNC Atlantic Property and Investment, who have spent years pursuing its redevelopment as condos, so far to no avail. But the shuttered gas station has also been envisioned as an ideal landing spot for a gondola stretching across the Potomac River, providing a transportation link between Georgetown and Rosslyn that some local business leaders and politicians have championed.

The potential acquisition doesn’t mean that the gondola, a subject of controversy on both sides of the river, is anywhere close to actually happening, but it should preserve it as an option by bringing a valuable piece of real estate under the city’s control.

Plenty of challenges remain, not the least of which is the fact that Arlington County said it was “not in favor” of the $80-90 million project four years ago.

Still, the news raised some hopes among the gondola faithful — and those who just appreciate the somewhat whimsical notion of aerial lift transportation across the Potomac.

Okay, but in all seriousness, do people want the gondola to be built?

One has to imagine that, given the rising costs of large building projects, the price tag on the gondola has to be pushing $100 million at this point. Is that worth it for something that would mostly benefit tourists, Georgetown students and Rosslyn-Georgetown commuters?

Would the experience of riding the gondola, compared to walking over the Key Bridge, be significantly better for the projected 6,500 daily riders? (Most riders will be local workers or residents, according to a study.)

What do you think?

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Today is Friday, August 13 — a day that some would consider unlucky.

Friday the 13th lore is at least a century old, and relates to various things, from Jesus’ last supper to the Knights Templar to Norse mythology.

While some may consider superstition about Friday the 13th irrational or silly, others have an actual fear of the day.

“According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day, making it the most feared day and date in history,” notes a Wikipedia entry.

Today we’re wondering: how many people in Arlington — a rather rational place — actually worry when the 13th day of the month falls on a Friday.

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Traffic on I-66 near Washington-Liberty HS (photo courtesy Eric)

August is the month of vacations.

Congress goes on recess, schools are still on summer break, and legions of D.C. area residents head out of town, to the beach or elsewhere. That leads to less local traffic and more out-of-office email replies.

Obviously not everybody leaves town in August. We’re wondering what percentage of ARLnow readers sticks around and takes their vacations during other months of the year.

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Suspected oak mite bite (courtesy photo)

ARLnow was the first local news outlet to report on the mysterious, highly itchy bug bites many residents were reporting.

Following our article two weeks ago, the bites — red, relentlessly itchy and lasting up to two weeks — have become the talk of the town. Our reporting has been echoed by TV stations, the Post, national outlets, and our friends at PoPville.

County officials and the expert interviewed by the Post believe the bites are from microscopic bugs known as  oak itch mites, or pyemotes, which are thought to feed on cicada eggs. They’re nearly impossible to see on your skin and fall from trees where cicada nymphs have been hatching.

You can’t feel the bites, but after about half a day they produce red bumps that can inflame the skin around it and are seemingly impervious to over-the-counter itch creams. The bumps also form a characteristic pimple-like center.

There’s some bad news for folks who have been suffering from the mite bites: an “oak mite apocalypse” in Kansas City in 2016 persisted well into the fall, until a couple of hard freezes finally brought relief. It’s unclear whether the D.C. area might see the mites scourge end earlier due to their presumed food source — the cicada nymphs — hatching and burrowing into the ground for the next 17 years.

Regardless, today we’re trying to find out the extent of the mite bites so far by asking readers: have you been bitten?

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It’s not a good year to be an allergy sufferer.

“Allergy season in North America has been the lengthiest and the most severe in decades,” Axios reported yesterday. A number of factors are making allergies worse, from climate change lengthening the pollen-producing season to an overabundance of pollen-producing male trees in urban areas.

That’s not to mention added air pollution from western wildfires and the pandemic potentially leading to more outdoor activity.

Today, we’re asking how this year compares with last year those with seasonal allergies in Arlington. Is it worse, better, or about the same?

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