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Monday, November 6, 2000

I've never really had this problem before. I've had spring fever. I've had periods of time when I haven't felt like working. But not this, exactly.

I don't think there's ever been a time when I could stare out the window all day and feel as if I'm using my time better than I would by sitting at my desk and doing my job. The birds, the flowers, even the weeds are more interesting than the keyboard and the invoice file. Living in the country and working at home has changed my priorities.

Could I argue that looking out the window is more important? More soul-nourishing, for sure. More important in the same sense that poetry is more important than actuarial tables (unless you find something poetic in actuarial tables, which I admit is possible).

I could also argue that when I work, I'm creating, which is a more sublime act than merely contemplating, even if what I'm creating (cost reports, for example) doesn't measure up to what I'm contemplating (the awesome variety of nature).

It doesn't pay the bills, though, including the rent on this place where I expend precious time in pointless consideration of these matters.

Tonight I should be getting to bed early. (Don't worry, not going to happen.) I need the extra rest because tomorrow I'll be glued to CNN all day, and the local channels after the polls close here at eight o'clock. I follow the election returns like a spectator sport, even in odd-numbered years. This, though, is like the Super Bowl of politics.

It could turn into the World Series of politics, stretching out for days, if the races are close and the count goes slowly. Both houses of Congress could go either way. This is crucial no matter which presidential candidate wins, and I'll be watching until the last precinct in the last district is counted, if I can stay awake that long.

Here's one time when it's an advantage to live on the west coast. We have to get up by ten in the morning to watch Sunday football, but by nine o'clock on election night we should have an idea of how things are going to come out in most of the country. And by Thursday or Friday, we might know how San Francisco voted. (How can that city be so consistently last in reporting results?)

I won't know how I feel about the electoral college until afterwards. If my guy wins the popular vote but loses the election, I'll be all for electoral reform. If he wins, I'll be congratulating the framers of the Constitution on their foresight.

It's fascinating and a little frightening that the polls show the presidential race so close. Many people either can't or don't want to make up their minds. Some, possibly half of those eligible, will decide not to vote at all, leaving the election in the hands of the motivated minority. We could have a president elected by less than 25% of those who could have voted for him, and yet he'll claim that the American people have spoken and the mandate is clear.

For me, I'll be watching the networks as the states outlined on their giant maps turn from blank to red or blue. I'm pretty sure California and Texas will end up different colors, and I'm at peace with that. Florida should give us an early idea of how things are going, but it won't be definitive. I'll also be interested to see how the dead guy does in Missouri, and the First Lady in New York.

In any case, I'm more excited about watching the votes come in than I was about the debates and speeches and ads that have been inflicted on us for the last few months. The images of the candidates and the echoes of their messages have been so unvaryingly reinforced that Saturday Night Live sketches seem as authentic as C-SPAN.

I could make a prediction, but it would be colored by my own preference. I always pick the 49ers to win in the weekly family football pool, even when I know they'll probably lose. I'd feel bad if I picked against them and they won. Worse, even, than when I pick them to win, week after week, and they keep failing to measure up to my faith.

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