Independent auditors typically analyze newspaper circulation and readership annually. The Baltimore Examiner, tabloid and free to readers, is not a typical newspaper. So we ordered an audit five months into business, a little fearful but buoyed by the warm reception of readers and advertisers (now nearly 500 strong), who told us success stories about their promotionalcampaigns.

The results from CAC, the Certified Audit of Circulations, were more than good. A demographically-targeted newspaper, we found 97 per cent of those we identify to receive The Examiner get it.

About eight out of ten of those households in the five metro counties who get it read it, 2.3 adults per household. And they?re reading it 4.6 days a week of the six days we?re publishing. That means that 360,000 adults read The Baltimore Examiner on an average day.

Basilica re-opening a treat and a history lesson

For those of us sternly or gently indoctrinated in the Catholic faith with a Baltimore catechism and/or the rubber-banded clicker of an earnest nun at school or CCD classes, the Basilica?s re-opening and re-dedication on the 200th anniversary of its opening this week has been a treat and a history lesson.

The nearly two-hour ceremony Saturday replete with erudite and articulate scholars and clergy as speakers would have seemed short had it not been for the bitter November wind blowing across the courtyard of the church, America?s first cathedral.

The speakers included the archivist of the United States, editor of Newsweek and architect of the U.S. Capitol (designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, who also designed the Baltimore Basilica).

All led the shivering and bundled crowd through the history and significance of the church building in some of the best researched and delivered remarks I?ve encountered in years of attending such events as a journalist and later, publisher.

But the personal favorite of my wife and I was Cardinal William H. Keeler, topped with a black scally cap, wearing the antique silver cross of his distant predecessor, Bishop John Carroll. He moved nimbly but with a walker ? still hobbled by a car accident in Italy that took the life of a traveling companion, a fellow priest. Cardinal Keeler was the sparkplug for the $32 million restoration and gracefully flipped through some of the pages of his remarks, noting the chilled state of his audience and jocularly complimenting Mayor Martin O?Malley, Rep. Ben Cardin, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and Kendel Ehrlich for taking a break in campaigning to show up.

The process and privilege of voting

Standing in the steadily-moving voting line at Keswick Multi-Care Facility a little after 7 a.m. yesterday were a lot of Baltimoreans dressed for work and some apparent retirees who were not. Someone kidded the election judges that he couldn?t tell the Democrats from the Republicans by their appearance.

Obvious, of course, but not the experience everywhere in the world. The atmosphere was cordial among voters and businesslike among the judges at the polling site.

Those there knew when they left they had performed a duty and were probably not going to be attacked by masked terrorists as they made their way to their cars and work. The words of Katharine Lee Bates, lyricist for "America the Beautiful," came to mind for some reason: "Confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law."

Pick up a copy of ?In Search of Ireland?s Heroes?

Tribal genetics streaming from my mother, Peggy Sullivan, and a birthday gift of an Irish history class from my wife, lured me to a Johns Hopkins University classroom last fall and early winter. The lecturer, Carmel McCaffrey, lives in Mount Airy and lectures on Irish history, culture and literature at Hopkins and the Smithsonian.

In the Hopkins class, she test drove the rich material from her not-yet-then but now-published book, "In Search of Ireland?s Heroes." Non-fiction, it?s a magnificent collection of stories that chronologically follows Ireland?s history with a focus on the heroes of the emerald isle ? a country always in need of them and happily given a passel.

The hero stories engage, the scene-setting shines as both scholarly and readable, and the character descriptions run deep. The book publisher is Ivan R. Dee, Chicago.