I’m so glad we’re all slowly climbing back toward life as we knew it before COVID-19 and lockdowns sent us into this tailspin. Of course we’re all doing so cautiously and everyone has one eye on the “numbers” that determine what we’ll do, whether those are deaths, hospitalizations, unemployment claims or trillions spent trying to keep the economy from careening out of control.
From a personal standpoint, I’m glad my mind can start to drift back to some of the things that occupied it before drowning in mucus and impending homelessness began taking up so much mental real estate. For instance, I found it to be a personal breakthrough this morning to start noticing once again just how often the stray cats fed by the ladies a few houses down wander into my yard to take a poop. I even had a moment to contemplate the irony of them having one of those pooping dog signs with “No!” on it (dogs can’t read any better than cats, ladies!) in their front yard, while blithely feeding many stray felines who bomb out flowerbeds up and down the block daily.
My “new normal” would have been to spend the morning time fretting about PPP money or vaccines and not notice the slinking cat with a newspaper under its arm, but things must be getting better if I was “present” enough to recognize what the cat was coming to do, the indignity of it all, and then quickly release my dog to chase their cat down the block. Sorry Tiger, maybe you should poop where you eat!
I’ll admit, this virus stuff has been all-consuming. It even got to the point where I began looking at the daily COVID-19 Dashboard from the Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) and actually started reading the numbers they were putting out. Then I became concerned because someone over there can’t do math, or at least they could do math for a month or so, then suddenly couldn’t do math for a week. Yeah, the daily report listing total cases and the percentage of those resulting in hospitalizations and deaths was correct way back on April 2 when they first released it, and remained so every day until April 29, when suddenly the hospitalization and death percentages were reported high every day until May 9 — after we asked about it.
These are the kinds of things that trouble the mind during a crisis. Why would MCHD suddenly not know how to do percentages? And if it was just an inability to do math, then why could they get other percentages right but not those particular two, and why were their answers always a few points high and never low? Am I just being suspicious because MCHD has refused to simply tell us how many available ICU rooms and ventilators are available on a daily basis, claiming they don’t want people “misinterpreting” that data and also that it’s now the hospitals’ “proprietary” information?
I’m glad I don’t have to think about things like that anymore, now that we’re returning to normal and whoever does the math at MCHD has found the batteries for their calculator.
Now I have time to think about the continued legal insanity in Baldwin County where it appears a bunch of Keystone Cop-like moves by Fairhope Municipal Prosecutor Marcus McDowell have allowed Circuit Judge Clark Stankoski the room he needed to drop an assault charge against bar owner Ronan McSharry for allegedly knocking a woman off a barstool in 2018. McSharry pleaded guilty last year to public intoxication and third-degree assault, but recently appealed his own guilty plea.
Lo and behold he was apparently right to do so, as it appears McDowell made an error in the basic charging document and Stankoski used that to boot the case. McDowell then waited a week too long to appeal the decision to the Alabama Supreme Court, but they still gave him another two weeks to show cause as to why they should consider his late appeal, but he apparently just didn’t respond. Quality work by the prosecutor.
Prior to the COVID-19 insanity, this McSharry thing was taking up more than its share of space in my brain because that same judge — Clark Stankoski — had gone out of his way to allow his buddy James Pittman representing McSharry in a civil suit to turn it from a personal injury case into some bizarre new case law against newspapers’ rights in Alabama. It was obviously nothing more than the judge allowing his pal to waste our time and money as punishment for covering a story. Any decent judge would have tossed it.
By the way, that case originally had been assigned to another judge, but Stankoski asked if he could take over. And now it’s turned into a circus. Hopefully more people who are starting to think about things not virus-related will focus a little brain power on Judge Stankoski and the way Mr. McSharry seems to do so well in his courtroom. Maybe think about how you’d feel if the judge came around asking to hear a case you’re involved in and the lawyer on the other side was a guy he used to share cases with. Maybe you’d rather go back to thinking about drowning in mucus.
It’s not all back to the old norms though. We’ll still have to spend some brain space wondering what’s going to eventually happen with PPP money, when and if commerce will return to anywhere near what it once was, and trying to decide how many thousand more times we can tell our readers spending just 21 cents a day on a digital subscription will keep them better informed and also ensure strong local journalism in the future.
Maybe it’s just the malaria medication talking, but even with all of that, I am starting to feel like there’s room in life for other kinds of news again. That’s probably not going to make the politicos, shady judges and constipated cats happy, but that was never our goal anyway.
So let’s all carefully walk out into the sunlight together and allow our minds to wander back onto the things that used to occupy them not all that long ago. You can wear a mask while you do it if that makes you feel safer. I won’t judge.
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