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Headlining many media outlets today will probably be the news that William Shatner has gone to space.

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CBS Sunday Morning recently aired a story about Mount Airy, North Carolina, the inspiration for Mayberry of “Andy Griffith Show” fame. Ted Koppel interviewed the townsfolk, who reflected on Mount Airy’s sixty-year run as America’s idyllic depiction of life in the slow lane.

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As Alabama Secretary of State, John Merrill is the state’s chief election official overseeing the process of voting.

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I recently bought myself a chainsaw. It’s only a ten inch and so I won’t get much done with it, I guess.

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Note: the following is FAKE NEWS. It is a satire, a parody. No one over 12 will be allowed to read this column unless accompanied by someone with a sense of humor. Any resemblance to any current politician is purely intentional.

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Since our last visit, I have been busier than usual. Life’s parade includes events of joy, like a son’s wedding (exhilarating, but tiring). 

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I was told that beginning in early childhood, most Texans are taught to “Remember the Alamo,” learn the lyrics to “Deep in the heart of Texas,” and lingo such as “hook em horns” and “guns up.”

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There are a lot of wild creatures that I don’t mind dealing with. If the rats stay out of the house, I say let them go about their business. I found a snake next to the house on Saturday, and it wasn’t poisonous so I let it be.

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I’ll just tell you. I’ve written and erased and rewritten this column several times now. I’m sitting in the floor with my computer on top of a rubber container, while Mama watches the kids in the living room. They are making a lot of noise, but that isn’t the thing that causes me trouble in finding the right words to say.

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The events of Sept. 11, 2001 are so fresh in my mind. It’s hard to believe that today’s high school seniors were not even born when terrorists took so many lives and changed our world forever.

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Yesterday I read a very good guest article on Al.com written by Dr. Peter Pappas, who is the William E. Dismukes Professor of Medicine in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Division of Infectious Diseases. Pappas wrote a letter, as convincing as any other I’ve read, about how K-12 schools ought to require universal masking.

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When our children are born, we silently vow to do everything we possibly can to protect them from all harm.

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One year ago this week, I wrote a column called “Four Years Notice.” It was an open letter to Democratic and Republican party leaders, encouraging them to find fresh candidates for the 2024 presidential election. 

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The ability to express our opinion is a valuable right. In this country, we are free to make our feelings known without government reprisal, according to the Constitution.

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I’ll never forget when Michael came home from work earlier this year with what we call the coronavirus. I, who was well into a year-long panic over the virus, immediately rushed to the doctor’s office for my own swab. It was negative, but the physician I saw that day said he would call me in a prescription anyway.

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The sign was at the restaurant entrance, plain for all to see: “Please be patient with our team. We are understaffed, and we are trying very hard.”

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During the feminist movement of the 1960’s, women began to enter the workforce in great numbers. Up until that time, most women stayed at home to raise their children. Only a few had previously sought jobs outside the home.

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I just dropped the boy off for his first day of “school.” Though he will only be gone three days out of the week, it still marks the beginning of the end of his time at home all day with me and I don’t like it much.

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It happened in a doctor’s office. It was during one of those awkward moments, when a medical assistant and I were awaiting the arrival of a doctor. We were running out of small talk about the weather, COVID, and lunch plans.

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Last week we took a family vacation to the beautiful Florence, Italy. I’m lying. We drove two hours west to Florence, Alabama.

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It’s back to school time, at least for now. Can we be sure of anything these days? After the students return, if the new COVID variant starts spiraling out of control, will it soon be “back to home” time again?

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As a kid, I would read my favorite newspaper columnists. I loved looking up the big words used by George Will. Lewis Grizzard’s humor was solid gold, every single time. I enjoyed the show business name-dropping of Earl Wilson. I even liked the gossipy “scoops” uncovered by government watchdo…

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Despite the perception by folks in other parts of the country, most of us in Alabama can write and read. But actions by our friends and neighbors are starting to reflect badly on us.

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I first met Halie Forstner back when she drove to the beauty shop each week, grabbed a Wendy’s junior cheeseburger after church on Sunday, exercised each morning, lived alone, walked without any assistance, and cleaned her own house.

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I love the television show Law and Order. I find myself even watching it even when some of the earliest episodes are on.

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The seven day average for new COVID cases in Alabama is 815.

How I had hoped this was all behind us.

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If you have watched any television shows in recent years, you have probably noticed the lack of enviable characters. In some cases, they are not even likable.

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I mentioned last week that we were taking the boy to Chuck E. Cheese for his birthday. I have to admit it was just as much an idea for my own enjoyment as his. I only got to go there once as a child that I can recall. I was more of a Mr. Gatti’s patron. They aren’t very different places. You go, you eat pizza, you play games.

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Each week the Associated Press publishes “Not Real News: A Look at What Didn’t Happen Last Week.” It is a collection of fake news, most of which has been shared online. The stories usually include quotes taken out of context, photoshopped images, and doctored audio.

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Last year, I found myself doing two things that were completely out of character: procrastinating and denying responsibility for my actions.

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Today the boy turns five-years-old. How five years have flown by so fast, I really do not know.

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I have declared this The Summer of Joy, even though I have no legal authority to do so. I am merely comparing this summer to the last one. We are smiling again. We are taking vacations, and we are going to church, ball games, and concerts. Optimism is in full bloom.

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My Channel 3 weather friend Paul Barys hears it everywhere he goes: in the grocery store, in the mall, on vacation, even when he goes to the mailbox. “Paul said it would be like this!”

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I have declared war on rude people. Some may consider it an unwinnable war, but so far, I am pleased with the results. My world is small, making it easy to control. 

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You wouldn’t believe how lovely my garden is this year. My zinnias are in full bloom. 

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“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

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My 110-year-old friend Halie Forstner was reminiscing about the two pandemics she has survived. (How many people do you know who can say that?)

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My mom recently found a Western Flyer bicycle at a thrift store. She wanted to use it as a yard decoration and put flowers in the basket, but upon seeing it I felt that I had to intervene. I love riding a bike, and it’s been a while since I have.

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Oh, how our lives have changed during the past thirty years. We’ve had great medical advances. Once-fatal diseases are being cured, and hope exists where once there was none.

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I was in line at an all-too familiar spot, a fast food place, and some customers began grumbling. “The service sure is slow around here,” one said at a volume level that carried beyond the counter. 

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Last week I borrowed my brother’s new truck. I needed some top soil and other things for my new raised garden beds that my dad built for me.

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 “It was like someone flipped a switch.” That was my son in Washington, DC, reporting on what he saw last weekend as he walked the streets. “One day, everyone was wearing a mask, with no eye contact or small talk, and the next day, it was like everything was back to normal.”

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The news came so unexpected Monday morning. And the rest of the day was filled with sadness.

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We went to the Catfish Festival on Saturday. As I pushed little sister’s stroller, with Mama and the Boy walking behind us, I looked around and laughed to myself. Maybe it wasn’t so much a laugh as it was a sigh. This time last year I wouldn’t have been caught dead there. All those people. There wouldn’t have been enough hand sanitizer or face masks in the world.