Emotionally, the Nose does everything in his power to stay off the grid. Commitment, involvement, passion--these simply are not part of his MO.

It makes for a less stressful life. A more selfish one, to be sure. But simpler. He has little loyalty to anyone but himself (and his ball and chain).

If the Blazers field a competitive team, he'll be back in Rose Garden in a flash. If Pabst is cheaper than Bud this week, he's a Blue Ribbon man. If Wal-Mart offers sundries less expensively than the locally owned neighborhood shop, he's in his car quicker than Ichiro's bat goes through the strike.

The Nose cares about Numero Uno. He is as concerned with the fate of the human condition as is that colobus monkey at the Oregon Zoo. Beggars on the street? Hah! Solicitations from charities? Gimme a break.

And voting? You must be kidding. The Nose has never heard of an election in Oregon that was decided by one vote. Hell, four years ago, he could have driven cross-country to Miami, punched a butterfly ballot for Al Gore and the outcome would have been the same.

The Nose has never voted. Never given it a serious thought.

Until this week, that is.

Don't quite know what put the Nose over the edge. Don't know if it's Swift boats, Halliburton or stem cells. Don't know if it's Abu Ghraib, the blood-sucking deficit or last week's Census report showing that since January 2001 4.3 million more Americans have entered the hell on earth officially called poverty.

Whatever the reason, the Nose decided to make one small change in his smugly satisfied lifestyle. This week the Nose is going online, to the Oregon secretary of state's website (sos.state.or.us/elections), and selecting the link for voter registration. He's going to print out a form, fill it in, and send it, along with a copy of his driver's license, to his county's director of elections. And he won't bitch about having to spring for the 37-cent stamp.

Many years ago, the Nose was sitting in the back row of English class when Professor Johnson popped a question: "What is the single most important thing you do every day?"

The Nose was taken aback by snarky old Johnson's answer: "Sitting on your throne and taking a crap."

At the time, Johnson's instruction meant little to the Nose. But the meaning of it came clear to him last week. Seemingly mundane daily events can have important consequences. So, too, can something that you only do once every year or so.

Especially this year.


Last week, the Nose ranted about a few locals, including pollster Tim Hibbitts, who had recently been interviewed by KATU-TV. The day the column appeared, Hibbitts chewed out one of the Nose's colleagues, saying he'd been misquoted.

The Nose thinks Hibbitts doth protest too much, but decide for yourself.

What the Nose wrote: "The other day, Hibbitts commented that City Commissioner Jim Francesconi's loss of the police union's endorsement might be good for his mayoral candidacy because many of Portland's liberals hate the police."

What Hibbitts said: "[Francesconi's campaign] may be thinking that the endorsement of the police union is not such a good thing to have anyway because a lot of liberal and left-wing Portland voters, of which there are large number, are not terribly enthusiastic about the police."