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What Have We Got This Week?

Love, inspiration and a bit of praise for men in high places

      Those SweetHeart candies you won’t find on the shelves this year (unless they’re left over from 2018, though who would know) offered us a range of flavors and messages. Bay Weekly is stepping up to fill their void this week with a collection of stories that range from love to beyond.
       Love, of course, for Valentine’s Day does a better job than Groundhog Day in breaking up the slog of winter. As to why we celebrate it at this improbable time, six certain weeks from the warming influence of spring, only the birds know. The biggest among them, whose babies need the longest nurturing to fledge, are already laying their eggs. That’s the case with an American bald eagle couple the sharp-eyed Wayne Bierbaum introduces this week. I hope you make a habit of indulging your eyes in his extraordinary photos every week, and enjoy his stories, for you’d have to look hard to find a better view than his at the world around us.
      Look at your own backyard birds and see if you don’t notice some early signs of the mating season in their behavior, coloration and song.
        Another of our love stories reveals the mating habits of blue crabs, that secretive species so central to Chesapeake Bay. Scientist J. Sook Chung at University of Maryland Environmental Center for Science’s Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology has made their love story her business. Now you’ll know the answers to life-or-death questions you might never have thought to ask.
       Love among another keystone species, the young adult human, is the subject of another of our Valentine stories. If you’ve ever wanted to know how Tinder works (and who of us beyond the age of using it doesn’t?), you’ll find out in Sarah Jablon’s story on how sometimes love refuses to be casual.
      As well as stories about love, you’ll find stories of inspiration in this week’s paper. You’ll read about the invincible Adam Keys, an Afghanistan veteran who goes where others fear to tread. A triple-amputee and aspiring stand-up comedian, he right now needs your vote in his campaign to host the Oscars.
       You’ll also renew your acquaintance with Mackenzie Boughey, the 17-year-old high school junior whose irrepressible belief that we can change our world for the better is proving her right. This week, we report that she’s been honored as Anne Arundel’s winner of the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award. 
 
Plus, Some Praise for Men in High Places
       Beyond all that, there’s one more thing. In this time when politicians get such a bad rap, and when men generally are being held accountable for what we used to excuse as just being boys, I want to pay homage to three I see as image breakers. I expect a laugh here, because these guys — Thomas V. ‘Mike’ Miller, Michael Busch and Larry Hogan — sit at the top of Maryland government. They are the political establishment, a bipartisan one. Yet over the course of four years, each has been brought up short at the limits of his power. Confronting mortality, they have shown us how a man can speak about the most deeply personal issues, depend on women — and call on fortitude against an enemy so powerful it takes his voice away.
       Miller, a bluff bull of a man who is the nation’s longest-serving state senate president, is the latest to hear death’s challenge. Diagnosed with metastasized prostate cancer, he told us the truth, let us hear his fear, vowed to fight it — and he appointed a woman, Sen. Kathy Klausmeier, as president pro temp when he was out for chemotherapy.
      House Speaker Michael Busch’s sister saved his life by sharing her liver when his failed. Busch is now back at work.
      Four years ago, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma called on Gov. Larry Hogan shortly after his election. Now, surrounded by women, he was inaugurated for a second term — and just appointed a woman as secretary of Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
       Am I saying these guys are perfect? No. And I sure don’t share their every political position. I am saying each one shames the stereotype, and each one gives a woman a fair shake.
      Maybe it has something to do with the women in their lives? For in each case, these are men surrounded by women. Miller: mother, sisters, wife, four daughters, many granddaughters. Busch: mother, sisters, wife, daughters. Hogan: mother, wife, daughters, granddaughters.
      If so, they and the women in their lives deserve thank-you Valentines.