A pair of notes to wrap up this first week of 2023:
— Many years ago, in another lifetime, I was editor of a small weekly in northern Michigan, the Lake County Star. I was just a few years out of college and this was my first editor gig, so I wanted to do it right.
Every editor wants to make efficient use of newspaper column inches. This tabloid-size newspaper in a county of 6,000 people was community-oriented. Other than the stories I wrote, the paper was filled with items and columns provided by readers.
And that included bowling scores. Seems Lake County was also a robust bowling community, so every week I’d get the results from the bowling leagues. They were quite detailed: high score, second highest score, third highest score and on and on.
Well, there came a time when newspaper space was getting increasingly tight and when that happens, either someone’s garden club column doesn’t get in or I find some places to cut.
So I chose the bowling scores. I decided only the top scorers would get in, and I’d edit out the second, third etc.
Sure gave me plenty of space. Plenty enough to report my obituary from Lake County bowlers who wanted to send me to the big pinsetter in the sky.
It taught me a valuable lesson about unintended consequences. My intention was to provide newspaper space for the community columnists and, in doing so, I unintentionally angered the bowling people.
I’ve repeated this same mistake over and again many times since then. That’s the thing about unintended consequences. I usually don’t see it until after the blunder.
Feral cats reminded me of bowling scores.
My Wednesday blog highlighted a woman’s insistence the county do something about feral cats in her neighborhood, and how she wasn’t happy with a commissioner’s response.
The blog’s intention was to illustrate priorities in government spending. The unintended consequence was that people may think the county does not address the feral cat issue, which it does.
While it’s on hiatus at the moment, the county has a trap-neuter-vaccinate-release program, or TNVR. I wrote about this in 2011 when the county commission approved the program in an attempt to control the cat population.
The program’s been tinkered with a bit over the years but the concept is the same. I trap a feral cat (county calls them “community” cats), bring it to the shelter where it’s sterilized and vaccinated, then I return the cat to its colony.
At the time I wrote that story, animal advocates estimated we had 23,000 stray cats in the county. While some people — such as the email writer in Wednesday's blog — want the county to remove feral cats, that simply isn’t workable. Dumping feral cats off at the animal shelter is a death sentence to those kitties.
Since the lone shelter veterinarian handles all critter medical needs at the shelter, sometimes the TNVR program is on pause, as it is at the moment. And anytime we read of animal hoarding arrests, those dogs and cats are taken to the shelter. Most are in critical need of medical care.
Here’s a link that explains the community cat program and how to participate.
For the record, I love cats, even the feral ones.
— There’s pain, there’s aggravated neck pain and there’s the kill-me-now pain I’ve had in my right shoulder since a week ago.
I awoke one morning with some neck pain, nothing major. The next day it extended into my shoulder/forearm and had my immediate attention.
I’m seeing the right people and doing the right things, but it’s minute-by-minute agonizing. Biofreeze has become my best friend.
The challenge of this one-man operation is when I’m down, the whole factory comes to a halt. I’m not out and about. Not on the phone. Not out taking photos of parking lots (which explains today’s lame picture of Lake Hernando). No Cattle Dog chats.
And my blogs have an edge that I don’t particularly like.
Not looking for sympathy, just understanding. So long as I’m physically able, the daily blogs will keep coming and I’ll work on the attitude.
Gotta go. Biofreeze is calling.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.