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Christmas is now only two days away! Due to the pandemic, many Austin residents are facing a holiday season unlike any other. Although some annual events are still in place, there are plenty of other ways to form new traditions for this year's Christmas.
Here are six fun things you can do while social distancing to feel the Christmas cheer:
Play virtual board games
Traveling is already a challenge during the holidays, but with the pandemic it's even tougher. If you and your family are choosing to stay close to home this year, consider playing virtual board games with out of state family members for a fun night in. This favorite holiday tradition might look different this year, but playing online games can be fun for the whole family and lets you avoid exposure to COVID-19. Trivia Royale, Song Quiz, Tabletopia and House Party are new multiplayer online games that can help you stay connected with friends and family. Even if you're a fan of classic games, you can play Scrabble, Monopoly or Game of Life online. Try playing a virtual board game this holiday season to form a new tradition for all family members, near or far.
Although holiday game nights can be fun and harmless, some families get a little more competitive. As an incentive, consider adding donations to a virtual fundraiser to your virtual game night as a way to stay connected with loved ones and give back to the community. Adding a sprinkle of competitive spirit to your holiday game night can turn into a tradition for years to come. When you start playing a virtual game, set rules on who will have to contribute to an online fundraiser. Whether you choose if the winner or loser has to donate to a fundraiser, set fun and creative rules by adding game privileges to those who donate.
Since the pandemic hit, many Austinites have tried to master the art of cooking and baking. If you haven't become the baker of your dreams yet, the holiday season is the perfect time to try out new recipes and spice up your holiday desserts. Try making a unique holiday-themed dessert recipe this year to have your home smelling like cookies and feeling like Christmas. This activity is perfect for any family with younger kids or friends who are cooped up together during the holidays to add a new tradition to your holiday season.
Cruise through light shows
Annual beloved Austin events such as the Austin Trail of Lights and Mozart's Light Show are still happening this year, despite the pandemic and with added safety measures. Although these events are perfectly enjoyable while social distancing, try switching up holiday traditions by grabbing some hot chocolate and looking at lights from your car, for free. Families with children can enjoy this activity all holiday season and add a sparkle of Christmas cheer to anyone seeing lights around town. You can choose to visit a holiday event around town or drive through a decked out neighborhood to see streets filled with lights.
Binge watch your favorite Christmas movies
Holiday cheer can be spread in many ways, but nothing beats cozying up on the couch and watching your favorite Christmas movies with your loved ones. This year's Christmas already looks different than most, so no judgement if you want to spend the day eating your holiday-themed desserts and watching one Christmas movie after the other.
Adding a low-cost and family-fun activity to your holiday season might be just what you need after facing the challenges of 2020. Crafting is a fun activity to do with family and friends and can be an easy way to stay connected with family members. You can place a video call with family members from out of state and craft together, for a fun holiday experience with all your loved ones. If your family is competitive, try having a competition on the best craft in the house, or share the results on social media so your loved ones can choose a favorite. Check out these DIYs for a crafty holiday season.
This is part of a holiday series counting down to Christmas so make sure to visit Austonia tomorrow, as we reach one day until Christmas.
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a record-setting second quarter during an earnings call broadcasted from the Giga Texas construction site in Southeast Travis County on Monday.
The electric carmaker reported more than $1 billion in quarterly net income and the production of more than 200,000 vehicles for the first time despite challenges such as a global semiconductor shortage.
"It … seems that public sentiment towards electric vehicles is at an inflection point, and at this point, I think, almost everyone agrees electric vehicles are the only way forward," Musk said.
Exterior shots taken just a while ago of Giga Texas (while @elonmusk is reportedly at the Gigafactory!) during today's earnings call!
Hope @peterdog15 got to catch the technoking in his video! #fastestinhistory #Tesla pic.twitter.com/WqeDlb5wU3
— Austin Tesla Club (@AustinTeslaClub) July 26, 2021
Despite rising consumer demand and adequate factory capacity, Tesla faces what Musk described as a "quite serious" global semiconductor shortage, which will determine the company's growth rate for the rest of the year.
With increased revenue and production, Tesla is investing in new factories, Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn said. These include Giga Texas, the $1.1 billion manufacturing plant that broke ground last summer and is slated to open later this year.
The Giga Texas factory in Southeast Travis County has rapidly increased in size since ground broke last August. (Tesla)
Musk commended the construction team for "incredible progress," transforming what was basically a vacant site into "a mostly complete large factory a year later."
I was at Giga Texas yesterday. Team is making excellent progress. Building will be almost a mile long when complete.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2021
Giga Texas will produce the highly anticipated Cybertruck, along with other models, but Musk said scaling its production will be difficult, especially given the supply chain delays caused by the pandemic. "It's going to move as fast as the slowest of its up to 10,000 unique parts," he said.
In other news, Musk said Monday's earnings call would likely be his last regular appearance, only jumping on future quarterly calls when big announcements warrant it.
Tesla Solar recently made news when it announced plans to build the nation's most sustainable residential community in Southeast Austin earlier this month. The newly built homes will feature Tesla solar roof tiles and Powerwall battery storage as well as electric vehicle charging stations.
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The city of Austin released a shortlist of seven candidates for the police chief position left vacant when Brian Manley retired in March.
City Manager Spencer Cronk hopes to announce an appointment by the end of August, which will require City Council approval.
The finalists, chosen from a field of 46 applicants, include:
- APD Interim Chief Joseph Chacon, who previously served as an assistant chief in the department for almost five years
- Anne Kirkpatrick, former police chief in Oakland, California, who was fired last year after a federal monitor criticized her handling of a fatal 2018 police shooting of a homeless man
- Dallas Police Department Assistant Chief Avery L. Moore, who is a 30-year veteran of the department
- Atlanta Police Department Deputy Chief Celeste Murphy, who manages the department's community services division
- Dekalb County Police Chief Mirtha V. Ramos, who previously served as division chief in the Miami-Dade Police Department
- Wichita Police Department Chief Gordon Ramsay, who is a former president of the Minnesota Police Chief's Association as well as one of the first police chiefs of a major U.S. City to call George Floyd's death a murder, as reported by the Wichita Eagle
- Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Emada E. Tingirides, who is also commanding officer of the department's newly formed Community Safety Partnership Bureau, which serves L.A.'s underserved communities
City staff will interview the finalists in the coming weeks, with several community input opportunities to come, according to a Monday press release.
The city conducted a public survey in March and hosted community input meetings in April to learn more about what residents are looking for in their next police chief, which helped shape the selection criteria for the position.
"They want to see the Chief be reform-minded and transparent and have a track record of fostering community involvement and accountability," Cronk said in the release. "The candidates selected show these characteristics in various ways."
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Days after Austin began once again recommending masks in public spaces, Austin ISD announced Monday that kindergarten through sixth-grade classes will have virtual options this fall.
The district will discuss the move in a special board meeting Monday evening starting at 5 p.m., while full details will be released Friday.
Teachers will not have to fret about the new option—no educators will have to juggle both virtual and in-person learning. Instead, certain teachers will specialize in virtual education, according to a press release.
The news comes after a recent spike in COVID cases in Travis County and across the nation. Children typically suffer fewer symptoms of COVID when contracted, but they are now catching the virus more often than their older counterparts without a vaccine available to them and as the more contagious Delta variant is quickly being spread.
While local health officials are recommending everyone wear masks, public school districts are unable to mandate masks due to an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott in May.
Parents have expressed concern about classrooms with masks unenforceable and children under the age of 12 ineligible for a vaccine. Some have even said they would look for alternative schooling if AISD did not offer a virtual option for students.
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