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Thursday, May 25, 2000

We were sold a bill of goods when this guy Gray Davis ran for governor of California. He was on the ballot as a Democrat, but since he was elected he's been more reactionary than Pete Wilson ever was. His latest outrage is vetoing a bill that would extend family leave to include domestic partners. He's not against family leave, as long as it applies to children and married people. He's not against domestic partnerships, as long as they don't go too far. Wouldn't want to have to explain himself at one of his cherished fundraisers.

Marriage should be either outlawed for everyone or permitted to anyone. There's no justification for giving it legal status if at the same time you use it to deny rights to nontraditional couples. You'd better fall in love with someone of the opposite sex, because no other relationship matters, regardless of how much the individuals are committed to each other or dependent on each other.

This is the kind of bigotry that's okay, even in a semi-liberal segment of society, because it masquerades under other names. "Family values" has been co-opted by the Dark Side, and they're welcome to it. Davis has dipped his ladle into their tureen and come up with some vague explanation about how much the family leave measure would cost. Oh, good. They've taken "family values" and left us with "fiscal responsibility," i.e., "big business." How in the world did that happen? We must be more vigilant.

And how do people make life-altering decisions about these things, when it's not even their own lives they're altering? Who gets to tell us what a real relationship is? Why should anyone but the people involved have the right to define a family? Is Gray Davis right just because he got the most votes? Because I'd take my vote back if I could. He'd fit in better as governor of Texas anyway, based on how much he loves a good execution.

I've developed an accommodation of sorts with my new neighbors. I ignore them and they ignore me.

That is, I ignore the constant racket coming from their stereo, their television and their kids. And they ignore me by going on with their lives as if they didn't have a neighbor next door. Although sometimes I think they're trying to see just how much unrestrained noise they can make before I complain. So far I haven't cracked.

concrete door stopMutual disregard seems like the best solution for everyone, most of the time. I almost had to break the truce this morning when the concrete base of their basketball hoop rolled up against my garage door, pinning me inside. After several minutes of fuming, plus a twinge in my back, I was finally able to use the garage door itself for leverage and get it open so that I could run my errands. My body felt the effects for the rest of the day.

decisionsFor once my errands included spending some money. At Kmart, no less. It was a choice between the vacuum on sale there or a DVD player from Best Buy, and this time I made the more practical choice. It wasn't even painful, shopping at the Big K, despite the usual lineup of surly clerks and malfunctioning computers. At least it wasn't as overrun with untended toddlers as usual, and I saw just one fight, far below the average, although this was a Thursday morning when you might expect things to be quieter than normal.

I was in and out in fifteen minutes. It would have been five if the computers hadn't gone down while I was in line. "Sorry for the wait." I think that's in the training manual, if there is such a thing. They must be trained in some way. Otherwise, how could they be so good at being bad?

STOPWhen I got the vacuum home and opened the box, the first thing I saw was a stop sign. Don't do this, it was telling me, you're not competent. Find someone who knows what they're doing. Get help now, or you'll regret it later.

My vacuum has a headlight.I scoff at such advice. I spread the parts out and got out the instruction sheet. After the usual process of trial and error, during which I invariably try every possible wrong combination before accidentally hitting the right one, I got to the point of making a test drive. Imagine my amusement when I had to look back at the instruction sheet to find out how to turn the machine on. Well, it's not as though there's an obvious on/off switch at any logical location. I did eventually get through this ordeal and made a clean sweep of my carpet. Next step: using the attachments!

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