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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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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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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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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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“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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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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 “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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Some people consider me to be a stubborn individual. And rightly so.

I consider myself to be an independent thinker who forms her own opinions and do not take kindly to being told what I should or should not believe.

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It is graduation season, and pre-COVID, I was occasionally asked to speak at a commencement program, but this year most of the organizers just want to get it over with. I don’t blame them.

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There are certain days you will never forget. Members of the “Greatest Generation” could tell you exactly where they were when they heard about Pearl Harbor and the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking we know someone simply because their name is a household word. The truth is we often do not have a clue about the person behind the title.

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I would like to thank former President Trump, and those who worked under him, for their efforts in establishing Operation Warp Speed. They are to be commended for making safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines available in a remarkably short period of time.

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According to the latest numbers, 161 million Americans cast their ballot for President of the United States in the November 2020 election. It was reportedly the largest number of voters to participate in a presidential election in American history.

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I remember an older lady from my youth. We’ll call her Mrs. Ballyhoo. She and her husband were fairly well off and didn’t seem to have a worry in the world.

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He was Chattanooga’s hero of World War II. He was a symbol for all of the heroic sacrifices of the city’s service men and women. He was Tennessee’s bravest man, who refused to surrender.

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From the time I got a job in broadcasting, until a year ago, I had a daily routine. I would spend around 10 hours a day at work, and then come home. In spring and summer, I would do yard work for an hour or two or watch the Atlanta Braves. In the fall and winter, I would watch a little TV, collapse into bed, and repeat those steps the next day. Sound familiar?

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As a parent raising children, we are responsible for teaching them innumerable lessons. Some of those lessons are intended to teach them how to deal with big issues as well as minor blips on the radar of life.

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One year ago this week, I was living a normal life, and you probably were too.

There were no masks, no social distancing, and no fear.

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When you get enough of something, it is often hard to restrain yourself. It continues to frustrate me when people jump on the media bashing band wagon. I cannot decide if some people really are easily influenced or they choose to be ignorant of the facts.

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The hits just keep on coming. Every time I wrote a column about misspelled words, the floodgates open. You don’t have to look far on social media, or on store signs, to see how spellcheck is failing America. So sit for a spell, and lower your expectations.

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In an ideal universe, I would have been born a princess who lived in a castle. I would have servants to do my laundry and a personal chef to prepare my meals so I could remain thin and healthy. I would also have my pick of eligible princes from around the kingdom.

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Recently I was honored to deliver the eulogy for my uncle, Owen Norris of Ider, Alabama. He was a child of the Great Depression.

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We were all watching earlier this year when members of a pro-Trump crowd stormed our country’s capital. The mob invaded the Congressional chamber. Participants broke into offices, stole personal items and destroyed personal property of some members of Congress.

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It has been three months since the presidential election, and three weeks since the inauguration. The division continues.

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It has been almost a year since our COVID-19 nightmare began. According to the CDC, we have lost almost 500,000 people. The virus knows no boundaries and kills without regard for age, race, political affiliation or hometown.

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Most of us know someone who is or has been a member of the National Guard.

The National Guard is a special part of the United States military that answers to both state governors and the president. Therefore, it has both state and federal responsibilities.

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Have you had “the dream?” I posed that question on Facebook recently, and was astonished to learn that almost everyone has.

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This was not supposed to happen. At this point, we should not have to worry about the future of our nation. We have had more than 240 years to work out the kinks of this beautiful experiment. Where have we failed?

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As you may have noticed by now, I’m “old school,” which is a way of saying you’re old, but by adding the word “school” it softens the blow.