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The Luck of the Deal

Here’s how, each week, we assemble a winning hand

     What have the cards dealt us this week?
     The drama of journalism is that you never know what hand the world will deal you.
     Certainly, some stories are planned in advance; typically ones that take lots of thought, digging and assembling are in process long before you see them in print. Next week you’ll read a story on an experiment in oyster restoration that took so long to develop that contributor Bob Melamud has been working on it since April.
    Others have to hit just the right note at just the right time. For such stories, including our annual Christmas story, we are writing long before Christmas decorations go up. In that category, too, is this week’s Breaking the Gas Habit. Automotive reviewer Brady Holt, a first-time contributor to Bay Weekly, and I have been planning since September to give it a new year’s splash.
      Most of the time, however, we trust, like card players around a table, that a new deal is always on the way. And we count on the chance — or luck — of the deal and our own ingenuity to make winning hands of whatever cards we are dealt.
    That’s a big assumption, and now and again in the friendless hour of 3 or 4am we journalists and editors alike awaken in terror of not knowing where the next story is coming from. 
     But mostly, by morning, the cards start falling, often faster than we can manage them. 
    Obviously we’re hoping for a Royal Flush, but everybody knows that hand is a rarity. And when you’re playing regularly — week after week for 26 years — you can make a winner of a Straight or Three of a Kind.
     This week, I think we’ve got a Full House. In layperson’s terms, that means lots of reading. In poker players’ terms, it means a pair of stories focused on birds, bird-watching and bird-shooting, photographically speaking.
     In this week’s Sporting Life, columnist Dennis Doyle approaches birds with a camera rather than the 12-gauge shotgun he’s more apt to use to introduce young wildlife photographer Jack Turner, who’s hung his first show at the Pip Moyer Recreation Center in Annapolis, where you can see it through March.
     Paired with it, out of the luck of the draw, is Barbara Johnson’s feature on the birding expert speaking at this month’s meeting of the Anne Arundel Bird Club, Smithsonian ornithologist, wildlife researcher and lifelong adventurer Bruce Beehler, who tracked the four-month spring migration of songbirds with his camera.
     Our three of a kind are this week’s helping of stories to help you charter your personal course of sustainable living. One of those is Holt’s introduction of cars that can help you break the gas habit. Another is new Gardening for Health columnist Maria Price’s story on how to use herbs and spices to beat or better endure the common cold. Third is Dock of the Bay’s weekly tour of notable news to keep you alert to the changing course of life in Chesapeake Country.
      Alas, now my metaphor breaks down, for five is too little a number to count the story value Bay Weekly brings to you this week and every week — and that’s multiplied by the ads that guide you to many of the goods and services you need to live well in Chesapeake Country.
      One of those extra cards is a regular none of us could do without: Kathy Knotts’s 8 Days a Week guide to where you’ll want to be and what you’ll want to do this week in Chesapeake Country.
      Another is Diana Beechener’s Movie-Goer, geared to educating you away from the buyer’s remorse you’d get from investing your hard-earned dollars in a movie you hate.
     On top of that there’s Wayne Bierbaum, whose Creature Feature this week shows us piebald animals to explain the difference between albinism and leucism. Finally, because of Wayne, I’ve resolved the quarter-century-old question of whether my beloved white cat was an albino. He was not; his citrine eyes — plus Wayne’s explanation — gave him away. 
     One more week — our 1,309th — I figure we’ve come out a winner. You will be too, as you discover the cards in your hand this week.