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March 7, 2000

When you take the same route every day, the spots you pass take on landmark status. On my walk to the post office and back every morning, I know at each point exactly how long it should take me to make it home. Today as I left the post office carrying an armful of mail, I looked up at the threatening sky and asked the rain goddess Tess if she wouldn't mind holding off for another eighteen minutes.

As I passed the Crystal Cathedral-like glass-enclosed orthodontist's office, I said, "Please don't let it start raining for twelve minutes."

When I reached the Baptist Church, I begged for nine more minutes of dry skies. This is where I would have voted, by the way, if I hadn't mailed my absentee ballot last week. Business looked brisk.

Two minutes later, passing in front of the elementary school, I prayed not to be caught in the midst of a horde of stampeding fifth graders on their way out for a field trip. Again.

At the ski lodge-like wood-paneled medical complex, I said, "Please give me five more minutes before the rain starts."

At the bus stop, I silently asked the guy in the wheelchair not to back over me.

By the time I rounded the last corner, the sky was a bit lighter and the threat had passed, for the time being. When the monsoon began two hours later, I was safely entrenched in my living room looking out. At that point you couldn't have pried me out of the house again with the jaws of life.

I'm not just getting older, I'm getting to be older than I really am. I'm getting to be my parents' age.

The carousel on my CD player holds five discs. While I'm working, I usually pick out one CD at a time, depending on my mood of the moment. When I've listened to five CDs, I have to empty the player and start over. That's usually the first time I notice what combination of music I've been playing.

Today, without any planning, I listened to Lena Horne, Duke Ellington and Patsy Cline. And in a slightly more contemporary but still retro mode, I also played some Jackson Browne and the Beatles' white album.

I've been listening to a lot of classic jazz lately. I started building up my collection of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, and I find myself putting those on the carousel more often these days than Kid Rock and Macy Gray (whose albums I also own).

Is there any more pathetic waste of the airwaves than local election coverage? From the inept interviews to the muddled analysis ("So far, no is winning."), reporters at this level are masters at repeated reiteration of the obvious ("72% no, it looks like this one is losing"). If the sports guy can describe the same games we're seeing, why can't the anchors tell us about the same political races that the graphics are portraying?

It becomes obvious how ill prepared they are when they try to pronounce the names of the candidates. Sometimes they can't tell the ballot measures apart. One commentator blithely informed us that Proposition 19 was the "same thing" as Proposition 18. (One extends the death penalty, the other expands on the definition of a peace officer in second-degree murder cases.)

What bothers me most is that they read the numbers with absolutely no concept of what they're telling us. "With zero percent of the vote," they will say without irony, "Measure B has 62 percent yes." I actually heard "Measure A is passing, 17 percent to zero percent." Think about it.

I don't have much more to say about Proposition 22. Here in Sonoma County we voted against it, but we knew that fear and ignorance would carry the day statewide. If we let the narrow-minded and the self-righteous define "marriage," maybe the concept itself has outlived its value. Maybe marriage should be abolished altogether, instead of reserving it for people who think one way and denying it to those who live differently. I have no problem with honest disagreement in open debate, but the claim that 22 is "not anti-gay" is fiction. What other purpose does it serve?

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