No matter how official Maryland responds to the swine flu threat, there will be second-guessing. So Montgomery County schools Superintendent Jerry Weast wants to remind everyone that decision-makers are human beings.
To quash any doubts about that, he pointed out at a news conference Friday that some of those human beings are even in charge of little human beings.
Like Gov. Martin O'Malley, whom Weast praised for calling him three times in one day.
"One time he called me, and in the background I could hear what I have heard when I was raising my own children," Weast said. "He was baby-sitting with his boys. And they weren't quite getting along.
"And he said, 'Excuse me.' And I could hear him straightening out the situation."
Rest assured, we have a governor who knows when a couple timeouts are in order.
Uma Ahluwalia, director of Montgomery's health and human services, got breakfast on the table for her little one while she was on the horn with Weast.
"I learned that her son wanted a strawberry Pop Tart for ... breakfast," he said. "And she said, 'Sure, I can get that done.' "
Mayor Sheila Dixon is scheduled to bike 60 miles Sunday as part of an event to promote that particular mode of green transportation.
Dixon is a fitness queen with a Cleaner, Greener, Healthier mantra. But 60 miles?!!
It will be a stretch for Dixon, conceded Mark Dennis, the mayor's official photographer and regular cycling companion.
Dixon cycles every Friday morning and, if her schedule permits, Wednesday nights, Dennis said. Usually the longest she goes is 20 miles.
"This is her first major, long ride," Dennis said.
But he thinks she can pull it off without too much pain.
Dennis might have a harder time of it, though he's used to much longer rides.
That's because he'll be taking pictures of the mayor along the way - pedaling ahead, snapping shots as she rides by, then hopping back on his bike to do it all over again.
Judging literary merit
Baltimore City Circuit Court went all liberal arts the other day, when The Baltimore Sun's Peter Hermann and Justin Fenton showed up for a case before Judge Gale E. Rasin.
A defendant in a gun case was asked for his home address, and he started to give the address for prison. Rasin defined home.
"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in."
"Huh?" the defendant replied.
"I didn't make that up," Rasin responded. "That's from Robert Frost."
Before that hearing got going, Raisin had looked up from the bench and spotted Hermann and Fenton.
"So what brings the Fourth Estate here?" the judge asked.
"We simply enjoy your company," Hermann answered.
Said Rasin: "I don't believe that for a second."
The banter got the judge wondering how the Fourth Estate term came into being. Her Honor Googled, using the computer on her bench. Her clerk got the answer first.
"In May 1789, Louis XVI summoned to Versailles a full meeting of the 'Estates General,'" the judge read aloud. "The First Estate consisted of three hundred clergy. The Second Estate, three hundred nobles. The Third Estate, six hundred commoners. Some years later, after the French Revolution, Edmund Burke, looking up at the Press Gallery of the House of Commons, said, 'Yonder sits the Fourth Estate, and they are more important than them all.'"
Thanks, Ed. We need it these days.