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Saturday, March 22, 2003

It was a gray, gloomy day. The looming darkness reminded me how narrowly we've just escaped from winter. This could have been November, and with rain coming in tonight it might as well be. I didn't need the horrors of TV news to make me feel low today. Unlike many unfortunate people all over the world, I'm lucky enough to have an escape valve.

What if they gave a war and I turned it off? Should I feel guilty for not forcing myself to be horrified again, the way I was yesterday and the day before? People are fighting and dying in Iraq, marching in New York and Chicago, making decisions in Washington and London that will affect the future of the world. And where am I?

I'm watching the Giants and Cubs play baseball. Sorry. I'm not even washing my car or pulling weeds today, thanks to the weather. I'm exercising nothing other than my option to do nothing. The rest of the world can be focused on Baghdad; I'll spend the day concentrating on Mesa, thanks. Not that I can do anything about the events in either of those cities anyway, whichever one I decide to think about.

Sure, I could worry about the same things for one more day. The situation is never far below the surface, no matter what else I'm doing or thinking about. I might never feel completely relaxed for the rest of my life, as the world grows less stable with every passing day. That makes it all the more important to try to find ways to live with the uneasiness and not let it overwhelm me.

After the game ended (in a 6-6 tie, which isn't supposed to happen in baseball), I strapped myself to the computer and punched out the reports the Boss asked me for yesterday. It took the whole afternoon and on into the evening. It wasn't easy because I found some small errors that forced me to redo some large spreadsheets I thought I'd finished two weeks ago. But it kept me from thinking about anything else for a few hours.

As satisfying it was to finish these reports, I didn't like what they said about the state of the company. I know the Boss will want to tweak them, to put our situation in the best possible light before we show them to anyone else. There is some flexibility built into the spreadsheets, and I'm sure the next few days will be dense with revision after revision, until they look as optimistic as we can make them.

I hesitated before faxing the last version to the Boss. I know he's going to panic when he sees the bottom line, but he does that every year. It looks much worse than it is, because he doesn't see the whole picture. So before I faxed it off, I made some notes. I marked a few places where we can legitimately tweak the interpretation, without making any misrepresentations that would catch up with us later on.

At one point I even thought about doing the tweaking myself, and waiting a few days before showing him the reports. I trashed that idea when it dawned on me that he likes being the one to find ways to make us look better. Even if I give him something that shines like a diamond, he's going to want to do the polishing. So I'm going to let him.

Besides, I didn't work all afternoon on this to have it sit on my desk any longer.

It wasn't this nice today.

A few dark clouds penetrate the white haze.

After I was finished, I did turn on the TV, and I was properly horrified by today's news. I'm conscious of the fact that I have the choice of ignoring it all day and catching up on it at night. Many people are forced to live with the awfulness every minute of every day. For people all over the world, life is a daily struggle to survive. I haven't really done anything to deserve being luckier than they are.

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I tried to avoid even opening the mail today, because I could tell by the windows on the envelopes it was news I didn't want to deal with. But one of those envelopes had a return address that puzzled me. Parking Violation Collections, City of Santa Rosa. Huh?

It turned out to be our annual city business license. Someone at City Hall had used the wrong envelope. I breathed a sigh and decided not to open any more mail.

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